What makes a good restaurant website?

07/08/2009 - 00:00
Online marketing is one of the most powerful, measurable marketing tools you have at your disposal, and a good website is the starting point for any online marketing campaign. Paul West from Ignite Hospitality gives us an overview of how to get the most from the world wide web.

A good restaurant website will drive bookings, collect customer data, present your restaurant in the best possible light and provide your customers with the information they require quickly and easily. In today's Dot Com world it is pretty much imperative that if you provide a service or sell anything at all then a website is an essential tool enabling you to communicate to customers, both current and potential. Your website is often the first impression that someone will see of your business, the perfect opportunity to present your brand in the way you would like it perceived and to communicate your brand messages effectively. That's one of the benefits of your website - you control it. For hospitality businesses, the internet offers unrivalled possibilities for showcasing, in the best possible light, the idyllic environment you've created, the products you supply and the customer service you offer, enticing and enchanting the customer. It is, however, important that you never lose site of the reasons why somebody is visiting your website, which is often simply to quickly gather a specific piece of information such as a phone number. A good website is functional: easy to navigate and provides all the information the user is looking for in a clear, organised manner. The more people that find your site, the better, because it will lead to more customers for you, so make sure it's as visible as possible and incorporates the search optimisation techniques discussed below. Website Development Process The starting point for the development of any business website is to ask yourself 'Why have a website?' This simple question can present some surprising answers and valuable direction in the development process. Is it to extend a brand online? Drive sales? Increase awareness? Communicate product attributes? Collect data? Really think about this, and although you might find all of these reasons attractive, prioritise them. But the primary objective for all restaurants or hotels should be: Drive Bookings! Once you've nailed down your core objectives, produce a written brief that you can discuss with your website designers. The brief should include: • Design benchmarks – Other websites you like in terms of design and content, explain why. • Objectives – What is the primary purpose of the website? (as previously identified) • Design Guidelines – What type of style do you like? What colours? • Website Structure – What content needs to be included on the site? Your designer should help you develop these points, encouraging you to expand on your thoughts, especially in terms of content. Most hospitality businesses don't require anything too complicated and simple is usually best. Restaurant Website Content A good restaurant website should aim to drive bookings. Ignite Hospitality finds Livebookings (www.livebookings.co.uk) is an ideal solution for online restaurant bookings as they allow people to not only book on your website, but also through third party websites. This supports the point I made earlier about increasing awareness and visibility leading to increased sales. You should also display your menu clearly, provide your phone number, address and a map so people can contact and find you easily. Use great images and write your copy in a fun, attractive manner, in brand, so it reflects your restaurant's personality. Try and drive as much traffic as possible to your bookings page by prompting to book online throughout the site with a prominent button. Your website is also the ideal tool for building a database and the perfect place to promote special offers, which you should then be able to integrate with your online booking system. Search Engine Optimisation Once you've launched your fabulous new online presence you'll want people to find you easily. It's also important to ensure that your website designer delivers a site that is 'search engine friendly' - that is, it is built in such a way that it is very visible to G

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