Do You Need a Dedicated Restaurant Website?
The answer is yes. And no.
Everyone needs a website these days, whether you’re a small local café or a large chain. These days, many potential customer’s look you (and your menu) up on Yelp, Menu Pages, Google, etc. before deciding if they want to dine. This added emphasis on pre-dining “research” makes having an online presence esssential. The best way to ensure that you have the presence you want and that you’re putting your best foot forward is to create a unique, dedicated website for your restaurant.
If you’re not web savvy, there are sites you can utilize to create your own website. However, be warned that it can be more complicated than it seems. If you’re looking for something very refined and professional, consider finding a web designer.
There are inexpensive services like Upwork that you can use to source talented designers to build you a site. Be sure that if someone is building your site, that you either work into your budget the cost of maintenance (e.g. you need to fix something, change something) or that they build on a platform that is user friendly and hand over all access to you before completing the project.
Here are some reasons a website helps your business:
- Dedicated platform for sharing your message and branding to the world
- A place to post information like menu, events, hours of operation, etc. and can be updated regularly
- Advertise for events, promote your business, and have an official place to direct people to for more information from your social page.
The main components your restaurant website should have:
- Contact info (address, phone number, and email address)
- The most updated version of your menu
- Your operating hours
- A map (create a small graphic or directly edit in Google Map – increases the likelihood of someone visiting your location exponentially)
- A description/biography page
- Links to social media accounts
Some extras to include:
- Mentions in the media/news outlets
- Photos of your restaurant/food
- Seasonal or daily specials
- News or blog (especially relevant if you’re in a niche market)
Caveat: If you’re a small restaurant just starting out and you have no funds or skills to build a website, it’s better to NOT have a website than to throw a half-baked site online. Since the website is an extension of your restaurant itself, you want to make sure that visitors will get a feel for your venue when visiting your site.
If you decide to opt out of building a website in the short-term, creating social media accounts, getting listed on Google Maps, and Yelp can still give you an online prescense.
Resources for creating (nearly) free websites on your own:
A note, creating a website is one thing. Buying a web domain is another. GoDaddy is the go-to for most web domain purchasing, but I would recommend looking into other services (that can sometimes be cheaper) like 1and1 and Bluehost. All domain service purchasing can have their upsides and downsides. A downside is that you have to (and should) pay extra to make your listing private (or risk the downpour of telemarketing calls you will receive), which is more than the cost of the website itself.