In the old days, it didn’t matter too much if your restaurant lacked a website. All you had to do (not that this was an easy task) was serve amazing food in a nice setting. But things have changed. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated a trend towards increased digital engagement. Now customers expect restaurants to have a strong online presence too. This means that your restaurant must have a website that is attractive, informative, and useful. Ideally, it should even give customers the ability to order food through it and reward them for their loyalty.

If you don’t invest time and effort into creating a website for your restaurant, the hard truth is that you’re going to miss out on business. These days a website is like another storefront. So don’t miss out on this opportunity! Below are seven tips to keep in mind as you design a website for your restaurant. Before you know it, you’ll be profiting off a trend that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Tip #1: Know Your Audience and What They Want

Before you start building your website, it’s essential to identify your audience and understand how they’ll use your site. You can probably group them into these three categories: returning customers, new local customers, and new customers from out of town. Returning patrons will likely visit your site to look at your menu, order food, check hours of operation, and book reservations so make sure this information and these capabilities are easily accessible. Meanwhile, new customers may compare your site to others in the area (so make sure it looks good!) Out-of-towners, in particular, will probably look at your site on their cell so it’s important to have a fully functional mobile version of your website.

Tip #2: Don’t Forget to Include the Basics

Make it easy for people to figure out where your restaurant is located, when it’s open, and how to reach you. Put your address and directions (multiple addresses if necessary), hours of operation, and phone number front and center on your homepage. Doing this will not only improve your site’s rank in Google search results but will also make it easier for customers to find and contact you.

Tip #3: Use High-Quality Images to Entice Viewers

One of the easiest ways to convey your restaurant’s ambiance and offerings is to incorporate imagery into your website. It’s imperative, however, that you use high-quality photographs that are well-lit and professional. And keep in mind that while you can of course highlight images of your dishes (and should, especially if your food presentation is top-notch), other options include your storefront, interior, kitchen, staff, and patrons having a great time.

Tip #4: Link to Your Restaurant’s Social Media

If your restaurant has already established an online presence elsewhere, say on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram, it’s crucial to connect these social media pages to your website. This will ensure a consistent brand experience for your customers and encourage them to stay in touch with you. Embed all of your social media links right on your website to drive traffic and brand recognition.

Tip #5: Showcase Your Menus (Using HTML, Not a PDF)

When deciding where to eat, most people will check out menus online. As a result, outside of your homepage, your menu is the next most important item on your website. Do not, and we repeat, do not include it as a PDF or image; instead, to make it easy to access and read (and to ensure Google includes it in its search results), use HTML when adding your menu to your website.

Tip #6: Integrate Online Ordering Technology

Consider integrating online ordering and reservation technology into your website so your customers can order takeout and delivery and book tables directly through your site. Increasingly, folks want the ability to do this and it’s a huge opportunity to boost your profit too (increased food orders and table reservations are always good!)

Tip #7: Incorporate a Loyalty Program

Finally, as you design your website, keep customer loyalty in mind. Promoting a loyalty program on your site (like rewarding folks for so many visits or food orders) can turn occasional guests into regulars. Combined with targeted email campaigns, loyalty programs will encourage repeat business by customers who are excited to keep coming back.

While there’s a lot that goes into designing an effective restaurant website, all the hard work will be worth it in the end. A visually striking and usable site can win over new customers, increase takeout and delivery orders, boost table reservations, drive traffic to your social media, build customer loyalty, and so much more. With so many potential benefits, what’re you waiting for? Get started today designing and building a winning website for your restaurant!