A lot of businesses moved online in the past year. Whether their physical offices/shops were closed, or they had to work at limited capacity, they had to adapt and start offering their goods and services online. Restaurants were among the most affected businesses in many places, being able to offer only food delivery and takeout. As many people started working from home and turned to ordering food online, it became clear that lots of restaurants had to pay more attention to their online presence. Many of them didn’t have a website or used one that had not been updated for months, or even years. Naturally, the ones that met people’s expectations were the big winners in this situation. Of course, having a good website is a necessity in any case nowadays.

An up-to-date menu, an easy way to find and/or contact the restaurant, and having your own customer database/newsletter, are just some of the most important features your website must have.

Below, you will see how you can build a beautiful restaurant website using our new Website Builder, or WordPress. The ICDSoft Website Builder is very intuitive to use, so you can save a lot of money from web design services, and you can add everything a website needs with ease. But if you are already familiar with WordPress, you can achieve largely the same result with it as well.

These ten must-haves will tell your customers that you care about them and that you pay attention to details.

1. Responsive template

More than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. If your site looks good on any device, it is more likely that you will get more orders. The website user experience is the first impression people will get. Your site will also get a small boost in search engine results as Google gives preference to mobile-friendly websites in mobile searches.

The ICDSoft Website Builder includes tailored templates and modules for specific website needs. It offers a number of fully responsive templates you can choose from. You can use any of them as you will be adding various modules later, but for this example, we will choose one called Delicious as it already features some food-related content. As you can see below, it looks good on any device, so people can check out what you offer even when they commute.

Desktop view

For WordPress, we would recommend checking the free Elementor plugin in combination with the Astra theme, which comes with ready to use starter websites (some of the more advanced templates are paid though). You can check them at https://wpastra.com/starter-templates/?page-builder=elementor&search=food.

2. Up-to-date menu

People usually visit restaurant websites to check the menu before they visit, or to order online or over the phone. This is why you should have a menu on the site and you should make sure it is updated regularly. The same is valid for the prices - we highly recommend listing them on the site, but you must always have the current ones, or you risk losing customers that have to pay something different from what they expect.

If you are using WordPress, you will need to check some of the restaurant menu plugins available (https://wordpress.org/plugins/search/restaurant+menu/). While we generally don't recommend adding too many plugins to your website, ease of management and updates is a much needed feature for something you will need to regularly work with and maintain.

Since our new Website Builder includes a module for a restaurant menu, we will show you how to add one quickly to your site.

To add a restaurant menu in our Website Builder, click on the Content button on the left bar and select the Apps option, then browse to Restaurant menu. You can easily add items to the menu – add a description and a price, choose a photo, select if the item is spicy and if it meets certain dietary requirements - halal, kosher, vegan or vegetarian. If you want to create a reusable module, then go directly to the Apps section on the left-hand side and you can edit the content of the module by adding menu items. After that, you can add the ready menu with a couple of clicks on any page. This option is suitable if you want to add the same menu on multiple pages.

A picture is worth a thousand words. It is good to know what a restaurant offers on their menu, but it is even better to see it. A gallery can be very useful if you offer more than a few items on the menu as it may be easier for customers to choose if they see what they can order. Customers are more likely to order something that looks tempting and delicious. It will also help if you add at least a few images of your restaurant – show people how cozy or fancy it is, what scenery they can see from the window, or something else that will make them enjoy their visit to your place along with the good food.

If you are not sure about your photography abilities, hire a professional to make the pictures for you. With today's advancements in mobile photography however, you can achieve quite a lot with a smartphone camera. The pictures of your food is what is going to sell your product, so make sure that they are good!

If you are building your website with WordPress, you can use the built-in gallery feature. The modern block-based editors also allow you to build a beautiful and dynamic page with media content easily.

In our Website Builder, you can add a gallery with a couple of clicks from the Apps option in the builder interface. By default, the application will use the images you have used for the menu entries, but you can easily replace them with other images that you have taken specifically for this section of your website. You can choose what background, dividers and spacing to use to have a unique layout for the gallery.

This is a good place to mention that you can also add a slider on any page and display your best-selling dishes. Doing that is as easy as adding a gallery.

4. Easy-to-find contacts

Many people still prefer to call for their order, so you should make it as easy as possible for potential customers to find your restaurant or to contact you if needed.

Your Contact page should be simple, but informative. Here are the things it should include:

  • Phone number. Add a phone number in the header of your website so that it is one of the first things people see no matter what page they are looking at or what device they use. You should use the click-to-call format: tel:123456789 to make it easy for customers to call you from a mobile device.
  • Email / Contact form. Along with the phone number, you can also add an email address or a contact form for people who prefer not to call. An email address @your-restaurant-name.com will look more professional than a free email address.
  • Address and map. Add the address of your restaurant and a map that will help people find you easily. If you are in a tourist area, a map will be one of the easiest ways for foreign visitors to find your place.
  • Instant messenger / chat. Many people look for a live chat if they have a quick question. Even if you don’t reply right away, having such an option can help you to get new customers. This is a quick way for them to ask about some event or if some meal is available, for example.

Our Website Builder creates a Contact page automatically using the contact information you have added during the site setup. The page includes the address, phone number and email you have provided, as well as a map of the exact location and a contact form. This will save you time and effort as you will not have to create the page manually. Of course, you can also add a Contact module or a map on any page of the site, including the home page.

You can add a live chat just as easily. If you go to Content -> Apps, you will see two live chat options. You only have to add the code the chat platform you choose gives you. If you decide to use another messaging platform, you can add custom HTML code to the site from the same section.

You can easily add code to integrate popular chat applications

In WordPress, you will need to create the contact page manually, but this is quite easy now with the modern block-based editors. The process is largely the same, as in our tutorial for building a Contact page for a web hosting company. You can check the video here:

5. Testimonials

Many people choose a place to eat based on the feedback left by customers. Was the food good? Was the staff polite? Is it easy to find the restaurant? These are all questions that your customers can answer, so you can ask them to leave a comment on your site and with their permission, to add it on a Testimonials page. This way, satisfied clients can help you gain the trust of potential clients.

While having testimonials on your website is a much needed reinforcement, you should make sure that you have properly set up your restaurant in all review platforms, like Google My Business, Tripadvisor, Yelp, etc. Of course, any review management strategy you apply won't produce good results if you don't offer excellent food and service, so make sure you don't spend too much time and energy on the platform, and not on your main line of business.

Adding such a page takes just three clicks in the ICDSoft Website Builder. Depending on your preference, you can choose between different layouts – several small blocks next to each other, a larger focused one, or a “Trusted by” / “As featured in” banner. You can use the first two options if you want to add a block with people’s opinions on the site, and the last one if some magazine or a local TV station features your restaurant.

In WordPress, you will quickly find a testimonial / review template block in almost every template library, or feature-rich theme website builder.

6. Easy navigation

Customers should be able to find easily the information they need on your site. Keep things simple and do not add too many pages. Depending on the site structure you choose, you should have a main menu with a few options or no more than a few submenus. Do not add a second level of submenus as the site will become too complicated to navigate.

The menu editor in WordPress is quite powerful and you can easily drag and drop menu items to it. The menu style is handled by your theme though, so you should consider the menu choices at the time you choose your theme.

The ICDSoft Website Builder also features a Menu creator. It comes with more than 20 header and side menu styles. You can choose whether the menu to be visible when a visitor scrolls down, whether to have a hamburger menu at all times and where the logo will be positioned in respect to the menu. You can also edit the background and text color, spacing and borders of any menu item so that you create a visually pleasing menu that will allow your customers to browse your site with ease.

7. Event schedule

What are the restaurant working hours? Are there any special events people can take part in? Some people will want to have a quiet dinner, others may want to try some foreign meal you offer only on special occasions. An event schedule is a great way to attract people that have certain preferences regarding special events and holidays so that they can plan what to do. Adding such events well in advance will be appreciated by your customers, especially regular ones.

The Event calendar module of our Website Builder allows you to add events with a couple of clicks. You can upload or embed images and videos, or even add HTML code to make the events more interactive. You can add a one-time event or choose how often it will repeat and at what hour – daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. You can also highlight special events.

8. A unique “About us” page

Lots of restaurants have websites these days. Some of them may even use similar templates. Leaving the menu aside, one thing that can set your website apart is the "About us" page. This is something that most restaurant owners miss to add. The "About us" page is the place where you can tell your customers who you are, what you stand for and what made you open your restaurant. If you gain people’s trust, it will be more likely that they will order from your restaurant. You should add some real pictures of you and your employees. You can get more customers if people see a friendly face instead of some stock image as they will realize that their order will support a local business with true passionate people behind it.

Whether you like social media or not, you will also need a social media account to build your brand and promote your products and services.

On the one hand, lots of people check ratings and opinions about restaurants in social media. On the other hand, a social account will allow you to keep in touch with your customers and show the human side of your business. Don't forget that when you use a social network service, you rely on the social network to keep your profile active. If for some reason your account there gets suspended, you should make sure that your website is well known to your customers, so that they can remain in touch with you. The next point in this list - Building a newsletter - is also very important in this respect.

Depending on the type of content you would like to share and the time you want to spend, you can maintain one or a few social accounts. Facebook is a multi-purpose platform and it is probably the most popular one, but if you prefer sharing only images, you can also open a Pinterest account, or if you decide to do something different and increase the popularity of your restaurant by adding cooking videos, you can create a YouTube channel.

You can add two different blocks of social buttons using our Website Builder. The first one is a Follow Us block that allows you to add links to your social media profiles. You can use this option on your home page. The second option is a Share block that will allow the site visitors to share content directly through their social accounts. You can add several buttons from your preferred platforms, but the real advantage of this option is the additional Share button that gives visitors a quick sharing option using more than 80 different social and communication channels. If you add recipes, event announcements or other interesting content, it will be very easy for your clients to share it.

10. A newsletter signup option

Having your own customer database is very important. You should not put all your eggs in one basket, especially when that basket is a huge, multinational operator of social networks.

Besides this, sending a newsletter every now and then is a good idea to keep your customers engaged with your business. This way, you can let regular customers know if you have some special promotion, send them personal discount codes, and just remind them of your existence.

The newsletter can be weekly or monthly, depending on the type of content you decide to send. Lots of businesses send newsletters, but few restaurant sites do that, so this is a chance to remind people every now and then where they can dine or order food from. If you still wonder about offering a newsletter signup option, check the websites of some popular restaurants. Seven of the top ten restaurants in New York listed by NYC.com have a subscription link/box on their website.

You can send a newsletter directly from our Website Builder without installing or setting up any additional software. The Newsletter module comes with an editor that allows you to add text, images and HTML code with ease. You can add subscribers manually, but they will receive a confirmation email. Any email you send will include an Unsubscribe link by default, so you won’t have to worry about GDPR or CAN-SPAM compliance.

For WordPress, check our full video tutorial on building a sign-up page and newsletter database:

Wrap-up

If you haven't built a website for your restaurant yet, or you have an old and outdated website, check out our new Website Builder. There is a free demo which you can play around with and explore the options it gives you to build your online presence.

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