A restaurant’s website is an important part of its relationship with existing and potential customers – as important as a warm greeting, the food and service, and the restaurant’s design.

Most people who come to your  website are interested in your restaurant – they’ve heard of you from someone or have found you via social media or online search.  It is your website’s job to persuade them to come to your place of business. These tips can help:

Keep an eye on the basics
To make your restaurant easy to find, consider highlighting basic contact information on each page of your site including your restaurant’s phone number, address (including information about parking), hours, and payment options. Be sure that your phone number is clickable, which means that someone can easily call from a mobile device without typing in any numbers. Other important basics include an application such as OpenTable that allows customers to make a reservation online and an online ordering option. Customers who prefer online ordering will return to you again and again for the convenience.

Showcase your food
Your food is your business so let it help you draw customers to your restaurant. Consider investing in professional photographs of your food or setting. A rotating slide show of four or five of your most popular or newest selections can hold center stage. You can use these same pictures as promotions on social media including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Provide plenty of menu detail
Many potential customers will make a decision about your restaurant based on your online menu. With this in mind, be sure your online menu is as complete as your print version. This means including descriptions and prices for all items. If possible, update your site with daily specials or at least indicate that daily specials are a part of your dining experience.

Paint a picture of your customer
Consider featuring pictures of your restaurant setting, focusing on the type of dining experience and type of diner who is most likely to enjoy your restaurant. If your restaurant is a destination for romantic celebrations, provide shots of happy couples. Likewise, if you are a family restaurant, including strollers in some shots will immediately get the idea across that you’re friendly to children. A picture of a big group seated at a table shows that you can accommodate large gatherings.

Spotlight your chef
Chef personalities and credentials can bring customers into restaurants, so spotlight your chef and showcase the reasons you trust your business to this person. Your chef does not have to be a TV personality or superstar for this approach to work. Years of focus on a particular type of food preparation, creative flair, special training or experience, or passion for a kind of cuisine or regional food can all help to craft a compelling story about why wonderful things come out of your kitchen.

Build character into your site
Whether your restaurant is home to a star chef or a family-owned neighborhood diner, a section of your website that details your backstory will help create an emotional connection with your customer base. You can also go into detail about your philosophy or approach to cooking, suppliers, recipes, and other aspects that make your restaurant unique.

Be mobile-friendly
Make sure your restaurant’s website is viewable via mobile, and remember to check multiple devices to ensure the customer experience is optimal.  Consider this especially if you enable an online-ordering system as most consumers will be seeing your site on their hand-held devices.

While your restaurant’s success may not hinge on the website alone, having a strong web presence will give your business the extra boost it needs to convince browsing customers to come pay you a visit.

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