Anyone in the restaurant industry knows that success is about way more than what makes it into the belly. On top of crafting food that will provide an exceptional culinary experience, a great restaurant also invests in smart business practices that will attract customers and keep them coming back. The dining experience starts way before anyone actually walks in the door or opens the takeout lid. Customers have to have a way to find you and also be incentivized to actually bring their business to your doorstep. Not only will a website give your restaurant a crucial online presence, but it’ll also attract customers, differentiate you in a competitive landscape, and even open up avenues to online sales.
Running a restaurant is tough enough, so running a website should be something you count on to make your job that much easier. A website brings new customers to the table and enhances your relationship with existing ones at the same time. A good one is worth it, and the investment you make in a reliable restaurant website builder will pay dividends. Looking for a serious return on investment? Learn how to build a website for your restaurant that’s every bit as flavorful and sumptuous as what goes on the plate.
Whether you’re new to starting a restaurant website or if you’re looking to garnish your previous experience, read on or navigate the menu below to find out everything you need to know to create a top-shelf website. Bon appetit!
Table of Contents
2. How to Create a Restaurant Website
3. Restaurant Website Design
4. Tip: Hosting for a Restaurant Website Builder
Find the Best Restaurant Website Builder
Julia Child said, “people who love to eat are always the best people.” It’s true. And creating a website with the right tools can help you find them.
Building a restaurant website with WordPress
There are a handful of platforms out there that will let you build a website, but WordPress works the best for the most personalized restaurant website builder–it gives you the ability to design a great website with all the potential to do anything a website can do. From creating a robust online menu, ordering options, reservations, mailing list features, to blogging capabilities, WordPress comes with the tools you need to adapt, change, and expand as you see fit.
There are plenty of options out there worth exploring, and the prospect of a one-step website builder like Squarespace or Wix is pretty appealing. These paid options generally work well enough for a lot of people for a range of purposes–but the costs pile up quickly, especially with eCommerce. And even if you’re looking to make a simple restaurant website, you might be surprised by how limited you feel. As easy as they seem, these are short-term solutions, and a restaurant, with an eye for quality and business smarts, is a long term venture.
WordPress doesn’t require you to know anything about programming to get started, plus it’s the most popular way to make websites in the world. Some common features of a successful restaurant website that WordPress provides:
- Image enhancement for delectable visuals
- Easy-to-use templates for appetizing menu presentation
- Plugins for online orders
- Multiple pages to tell a dynamic story of your restaurant
- SEO tools to help make your website more visible
- The ability to choose your own web hosting (more on that later)
You can always find what you need to know, and if a website can do it, then there’s a way to make it happen with WordPress.
WordPress is free and open-source with a vast plugin library so you can pay for what you need. If you need to add any capabilities to your website at any time, easy to use plugins are available for just about anything and everything. An eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce, for example, will allow you to make online transactions so you can open the door to takeout and delivery options–even a merch store.
How to Create a Restaurant Website
Starting a successful restaurant website doesn’t have to be complicated. Knowing what it entails will hopefully empower you with the knowledge that you really can make a great, enticing, and business-ready website with just a couple of decisions. Running a restaurant, you’ve got a lot on your plate already. But if you know what you need, creating a restaurant website from the ground up will be a piece of cake. One of the hardest parts of making a website is letting go of the idea that you need to be an expert. The basics are actually pretty simple.
This is the most basic part of making the website–claiming a territory. This is the name of your web address, how patrons can find you. Find a domain that will speak to your restaurant and ideally serve as a direct advertisement for the name of your business–whether that’s a single restaurant or, if you’re a corporation, will platform your restaurants under one umbrella. The little bit of investment it will take to claim a unique domain name (and one containing the sole moniker of your restaurant) will pay off.
If you decide to build your website with WordPress, you can get started quickly and for free. Once you’ve registered a domain and established the space for the site, you’re ready to enter the design phase of building your first restaurant website. The next step is to design a website that will appeal to customers and provide you with the functionality to communicate effectively with your audience.
Restaurant website templates
There’s a healthy serving of easy-to-use restaurant website templates and themes that will get you set up quickly. Your restaurant website should be easy to navigate, and visually appetizing–so pick a template that emphasizes images, but also remember that basic information like location, contact info, and your story is vital. Scroll down for more thoughts on how to create a restaurant website with delectable food photography.
Restaurant Website Design
Pick your template and themes with an eye for easily digestible content, and WordPress will let you build your content easily. A website should give your customers a visual taste of your dishes as well as the ability to access everything they need to learn about what you have to offer. Getting a customer looking at food pics, reading about your restaurant, browsing other customer reviews, learning about who you are—that’s the start of a conversation, and one that gets them closer to your door.
The best restaurant website design will not only get them hungry for the cuisine but invest them in the story of your restaurant. Food tells a story, and your website should too. Learn how to design a restaurant website that will make your customers feel part of the narrative. Here are some restaurant website design ideas to help get you started.
Get started with web design
Start by thinking about what you want your customers to know. If you’re a restaurant owner, you’re probably pretty well-versed in simply talking to customers about who you are. And as an industry insider, browse your favorite restaurant website examples. What are the things you wanna know about other restaurants and food services that you value? That’s the story of your restaurant you ultimately want to tell–and you need a clear and easily navigable menu (not the food kind, but the website kind, though you’ll need that too!) that invites your user into that story. Provide a space for:
- contact info and locations
- an About section that will tell your story (really spend a bit of quality time with this, it matters)
- a store or other eCommerce aspects of your business
- and, of course, a menu (the food kind!)
Start a restaurant blog
I’d also suggest investing in a space for a blog, too. Blogs can be an amazing way for your business to interact with patrons. Gaining a following online is just as valuable online as it is in-house. Build a rapport with your patrons, invest them in the process of your restaurant and keep them informed in a deliberate way. The way to the heart is through the stomach. Give them as much access to what they love as possible. Getting your patrons to feel like they know who you are will fold them into your story.
Invest in quality photography for your website
Food photography is an art-form. If you feel comfortable and confident, by all means, do your own food photography. If you love food, let it show! Your website audience will eat it up-but be sure it’s good. People eat with their eyes, and quality food photography can truly be the main thing that brings customers in from the online space. That said, consider booking an afternoon session with a local professional. There are a few reasons you might want to do this.
- You might really value professional skills (some of which you just may or may not be able to match…you’re the food professional, let someone else be the photography pro.)
- Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can really surprise you. Maybe you’ve seen the chicken a la crème dish too many times to find it mouth-watering in the same way that a fresh eye might. A fresh perspective can be a beautiful thing (and it just might be more closely aligned with your customer’s.)
- Take an afternoon on your restaurant’s off day or when you’re not busy and really focus on the food–give the dishes a proper photoshoot.
- Advocate for your food, talk about it with your photographer. Photographers are very, very good at networking, and they’ve got an eye toward building their client-base just like you do. Allowing people into your local circle can go a long way toward community-building.
- Bring someone in during business hours to do photography (and even videography.) Let them capture you and your kitchen and staff at work. Customers love a behind-the-scenes look. It can bring them into the kitchen in a way that you can’t in person. Maybe don’t show them how the secret sauce gets made, but a real investment in this area of expertise can make customers feel like they have a stake in what they’re choosing to support.
Once you’ve curated an impressive gallery of images to work with, a restaurant website builder like WordPress will let you present these images in the most appealing way. Some pre-packaged website solutions might be a little too generic for the task. WordPress will help make your restaurant looks as unique and special online as it really is in person.
eCommerce plugin and online store
If you want to be able to offer your plates and dishes to your customers in delivery or takeout form, you need to install an eCommerce plugin. I mentioned this before, but consider this one of the attributes of WordPress. Even if you don’t offer takeout or delivery now, you might in the future–and WordPress lets you build for the future.
Wanna sell t-shirts, memorabilia, or your signature cocktail by the jar? An on-site store might not be the right fit, but having a website gives you an appealing side-door to sales. This capability might even give you some ideas to implement in-house as a result. Sell tickets to an event (Valentine’s day is big business) or bundle coupons with certain purchases to get people in the door and coming back.
Tip: Hosting for a Restaurant Website Builder
Building a WordPress website is something you can do easily, and hopefully this post explores all the tools that will help get you started. Once you’ve put the final touches on your brand new website, WordPress also lets you choose your own web hosting. Just like a good hosting staff takes care of your dining room, a good website host will ensure everything runs smoothly online. A website is a long-term investment, and a quality host like WP Super Host helps protect your investment by enabling fast site speeds and high-level security, 24/7. Protect your content with automated daily backups, site speed reports, and plugin monitoring, powered by Cloudfare’s global CDN and a free SSL certificate. Read more about WP Super Host’s high-end hosting features at affordable costs, and find out how great hosting can be part of your investment in a quality restaurant website.
Good food, good people, good vibes. A restaurant website can be your first point of contact with new customers and inspire repeat business. WordPress is an ideal way to reach people in a fast, convenient, and appetizing way. The investment in a great website with supportive hosting will make sure your business keeps people coming in and coming back. Happy dining!