How to Design a Website for Your Restaurant

Katie Fleming

Katie Fleming

Co-founder and COO of Owner Actions

A person sits at a diner table and starts to design a website for her restaurant

Your customers will want to know who you are—and what you serve—before they'll be willing to give your restaurant a try. There's no better way to take on this task than to design a website for your restaurant.

When it comes to design, everything matters.  The fonts you choose, the images you select, and the content you include will all tell part of the story of what your restaurant is all about. That story must appeal to your target market.

User experience matters, too. If you plan to offer menus to browse, online ordering, online reservations, or any other functionalities, you must ensure that they're clear, simple, and easy for people with a wide range of web savviness to use.

In this article, we'll help you design a website that will hit all of these key points.

 

What's my story?

There is a specific reason you choose to start your restaurant. You carefully selected a style of cuisine and menu items to support it. You had reasons for choosing your location, hiring specific staff members, and operating under the name you chose. Try writing a story around those reasons, aiming for a narrative that's three-to-four paragraphs in length. This story will make you a character worth supporting and your business one to champion.

You might decide to include your story on your website. Some owners do, and they build a community of loyal patrons because of it. But even if you opt to keep the story private, you can use it to select design elements on your site that match the heart of your message.

What does this mean? Here are some examples. For images, you might include photos of your team, your background, the region your menu is built around, or any other aspect of your story that feels important to emphasize. The colors of your site should tie back to your story, too. If there are colors that are important to the nationality of your menu, you may want to find ways to tie those in.

 

Let's talk more about content.

Whether or not you choose to tell your story, you should use space on your site to explain the concept of your restaurant and what diners can expect when they have a meal at your establishment.

Few people will pour over every word on your site, especially if you share paragraph after paragraph on the minute details of your restaurant. With this in mind, try to match your content to your audience's preferred styles of taking in information: Keep paragraphs short and to the point and use videos when possible.

Writing tone matters. In most instances, a polished, professional tone is best, especially if you want your restaurant to be taken seriously. However, if your place is casual and your people are lighthearted, you should show that through the words you choose. Be relaxed and casual, but continue to get the points that matter across.

One more tip: Don't underestimate the importance of good grammar. Run spell check and ask a well-read peer to proof your site for errors before you post your content.

 

What should I put on my site?

Beyond your story and messaging about your restaurant, there are a few elements that will help you win over your audience. Let's run through these briefly:

 

Your menus

So many people who seek out your site do so because they want to know what you serve. With this in mind, be sure to keep your restaurant's current menus on your site and make them very easy to find. Your menu can be a simple PDF file, a page on your site, or an interactive tool that allows site browsers to learn more about dishes, see photos, or place online orders.

Lots of diners today hope to see dietary information, such as calorie, sodium, or fat content, and allergen information. You can decide whether it's feasible for you to include those items.

 

Online ordering

Some restaurants develop their own capabilities for online ordering, but it's far easier to use a readymade tool, like the ones listed below. Check out the chart for a quick snapshot comparison, and click the logos for a video that shows you more about each option:

Play Video about Click for door dash video

DoorDash

6% + delivery fee
  • Pay a 6% commission for pickup orders and a 15-30% fee for delivery
  • Take orders on your website or through the DoorDash app
  • Run in-app promotions to attract new customers
  • If you have your own delivery fleet, you can allow your drivers to deliver for DoorDash and receive access to DoorDash drivers during peak hours
Play Video

TouchBistro

$120 / month
  • Take online and delivery orders without third party fees
  • All-in-one restaurant management system for $70 month (base service $70/month, online ordering is a $50/month add-on)
  • Reservation system available for additional $299 per month
  • Take reservations directly through Google
  • Must have your own delivery fleet
Play Video
Play Video about Click for EatApp video

EatApp

$209 / month
  • Online ordering and digital menu available in the $209/month package
  • Customers can book reservations through Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Zomato
  • Optimize your seating with table management
  • Provide discounts during off hours
  • Built in CRM with e-mail marketing

 

Online reservations

If you have a tool in place for taking online reservations, you can link it directly to your website. It's best to work with the organization that provides this service to your restaurant to learn how to integrate it. You may also find some easy-to-follow instructions on that organization's website (and examples of how others have integrated it, too).

If you don't already have an online reservation service in place, consider these options:

Play Video about Click for OpenTable video

OpenTable

$249 / month
  • Most widely used reservation system
  • Budget-friendly package available without table management
  • Additional $1.25 per reservation made through the OpenTable network
  • Accept takeout orders online
  • Integrates with a wide range of point-of-sales systems
Play Video

TouchBistro

$299 / month
  • All-in-one restaurant management system for $70/month
  • Reservation system available for $299/month
  • Take reservations directly through Google
  • Accept online and delivery orders without third-party fees (Additional $50 per month)
  • Works with third-party card processors
Play Video about Click for EatApp video

EatApp

$169 / month
  • Customers can book through Google, TripAdvisor, Facebook, and Zomato
  • Optimize your seating with table management
  • Provide discounts during off hours
  • Online ordering and digital menu available in a $209/month package
  • Includes a built-in CRM with e-mail marketing

 

What about design?

As we said at the outset, design matters. The style and visuals you choose will cause an emotional response in your audience.

There are countless resources that can help you with this step (including Templately), though if graphics aren’t your strong suit, we recommend working with an experienced web design professional. However, the following tips can help you develop your brand imagery strategy:

 

Be consistent.

Consistency is important for building brand recognition. Your site doesn’t need rigid uniformity, but you should ensure that your logo, font selection, color story, and image elements have a similar look and feel and will appeal to a broad section of your target audience.

 

Use color thoughtfully.

Every color can elicit emotions. For instance, green often exudes peace, earthiness, or prosperity; white conveys modernness and simplicity, and blue can hint at serenity, assurance, and tranquility. Study a color theory resource, such as this one, and select a dominant and secondary color for your site’s headings and imagery that will help you set a compelling tone and a clean and purposeful aesthetic.

 

Allow for white space.

Break up the visual elements on your site. By incorporating some white space, or visual emptiness, you can draw your viewers’ eyes to key elements of the page without making them feel overwhelmed by a bevy of content.

 

Prioritize simplicity.

It can be tempting to overdesign each element of your site, but doing so may overstimulate—and overwhelm—your audience. Try sticking to a small selection of colors, fonts, and style choices that will convey your brand image clearly and effortlessly.

 

Feature high-quality photos of your most popular menu items.

Food is at the heart of what you do. Show off what you serve. Hire a photographer who can help you take great photos at just the right angles.

You may also want to take photos of your site, tables, manager, or team. We said earlier that these photos can help site viewers connect with your story and visualize themselves within it.

 

Here are a few web designers who have lots of experience helping owners design a winning website for their restaurants:

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Penji

Hiring a designer should be simple

Thousands of marketers, agencies, and business owners rely on Penji for clean, crisp web designs. Start by completing a simple form. Then, get paired with a experienced designer, rigorously tested for expertise. You'll get a draft back quickly, and you can ask for an unlimited number of revisions until you're fully satisfied. Ready to learn more? Follow this link to try Penji today, 100% risk-free with a 15-day money-back guarantee.

 

Check this out: For a limited time, you can save up to 15% on the first month of any Penji plan with this coupon code: OWNERACTIONS15. Restrictions may apply. Visit Penji's website for details.

Play Video

Studio1 Design

Design for Market Leaders

Studio1 Design combines stunning design with marketing expertise and psychological factors that influence your audience to convert readily into paying, loyal customers. This team has been trusted by thousands of businesses, influencers, and marketers to move the revenue needle in their businesses. Ready to have your website transformed into a high-performing marketing machine? Click the button below to connect with Studio1 Design.

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99designs

Trusted by Thousands of Brands

Want a better way to design a website? 99designs may be your solution. With this service, multiple hand-vetted designers from all over the world will send you design ideas that suit your goals, vision, and budget. You choose the design you like best, and within seven days, you'll have a completed design with full copyright ownership. 99designs also offers a 100% money-back guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. Follow this link to learn more.

 

You can also find readymade templates that are great for many restaurants (look into GoDaddy and some popular WordPress templates), but of course, a professionally designed site is often well worth the cost.

 

What else?

Your website will need a web domain (the place you claim on the internet). We can help you work through this task. Check out this article for some simple tips and suggestions of a few great web hosts:

 

Make sure your site can be found. You've likely heard of search engine optimization (SEO), which helps businesses rise to the top of search engine results. Turn to an expert for help with this task. Here are a few SEO teams that have specific experience in helping restaurants with SEO challenges:

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Jemsu

Be an SEO Success Story

For more than 10 years, JEMSU has been helping businesses improve their ranks in Google, Yahoo, and Bing searches. They do this by examining the businesses's domain name, optimizing the content and images on their sites, and recommending keywords to target to help maximizing ad spend, but they never use a cookie-cutter approach to helping businesses boost their visibility. Interested in hearing how JEMSU would take on SEO for your business? Follow this link to connect to their team.

Creative Analytics

Using the Power of Data to Deliver Smart Strategy and Compelling Creative

At Creative Analytics, SEO works falls under their umbrella of inbound marketing, a category where their team really shines. After completing a comprehensive audit on your current digital footprint and sizing up where your competitors are today, the Creative Analytics team can recommend a robust plan with on-page SEO and keyword research to help your business attract attention. Learn more by following this link.

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Diib

Automated SEO to Grow Your Business

More than 250,000 businesses use Diib to access industry-based rankings, set custom growth tracks, and find actionable insights they can use for growth. Diib offers lots of free tools, including website monitoring and a keyword explorer, but their paid plans (ranging from $20 to about $2000/month) include tools and support that result in a much bigger impact. We're Diib users, and we think it's worth checking it. You can get started with the link below.

 

What's next?

With a great site in place, turn your attention to your social media pages. We have a few great articles that can help you with this task:

 

Then, be sure to log into your owner's portal for more articles and a step-by-step roadmap you can use to start your restaurant. You can also refer to our restaurant guide for how-to guides and recommendations.

Want to take on other tasks?

Come see the free step-by-step guide business owners love.

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