Let's just start off by saying every restaurant needs a website. A website serves many purposes and given how inexpensive they are to both get and maintain there is really no excuse for not having one.
A website provides the following for a restaurant:
The days of people looking in the yellow pages for information or calling 411 to get a phone number are just about done. This is good news because yellow pages ads were expensive and 411 wasn't free either! People still look at coupons ni the mail but that business is also shifting more and more online.
The bottom line is that just about every restaurant except (maybe) the ones who are literally the only game in town need to make themselves locatable and present on the Internet. That means having a website and it now also means having a social media presence.
Your restaurant website doesn't have to be complicated. You generally only need a handful of pages:
If you have nutrition info, multiple locations, marketing partners or anything else you want to add by all means throw in a few more pages. You can also link to reviews, your Facebook page and your Twitter account. You could have a staff page with pictures of your employees or anything else that makes it interesting and personal.
There are literally a million examples of different ways to put together a restaurant website.
The best way to get it done is to hire a company that specializes in restaurant websites and then let them know what you want. Ideally the website should match your concept design colros and your logo and look like part of an integrated whole.
You can spend thousands and wait months for it to be done but there is no reason to do either. You can get a very nice looking, professionally designed and search engine friendly site built in a couple of weeks or less for well under a grand.
You definitely want to stay away from sites built in flash (the ones with the intros and lots of moving animation) because A) they don't work on everyone's computer and B) they don't work well with search engines. No point in having a website if people can't see it or find it. You also don't want a site that looks like a website from 1996 with lots of scrolling text and a million fonts and font colors because that says cheesy and probably isn't what you want to convey.
One of the most important parts of having a good restaurant website is having high quality pictures of the food. If you can't get high quality, well lit professional looking pictures then you are better off not using pictures at all. A bad looking photo of food is a huge turn off!
The best way to go about getting a website for your restaurant is to find one or a few different examples of websites you like (usually other restaurant sites but they don't have to be) and then send these website ideas to your web designer who can incorporate a look you like but make it customized to fit with your personal restaurant concept.
The best time to get your website built is actually way before you are ready to open. Having a website adds credibility to your restaurant business plan package as it gives the impression you are a lot farther along than just tinkering with the idea. It also demonstrates you are willing to invest a few bucks into the project and that you have already put time and thought into a menu, logo, name, location (at least tentatively) and general look and feel for the business.
Having the website ahead of time also lets you start pre-marketing and building an email list so that when you are ready to open your restaurant you will have a packed house instead of a chorus of crickets.
Here are some screenshots of different restaurant website designs we like you can use as inspiration to get your own creative juics flowing and the ideas churning:
Copyright 2001- RestaurantFunds.com