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Six Web Development Tips for Restaurants and Bars

Five Web Development Tips for Restaurants and Bars (Source: Pixabay.com - used as royalty free image)

Your craft cocktails may be the best in town. Your prime rib may be the most succulent around. Your servers may be the most efficient in the city. But does your website meet the same high standards you set for your restaurant?

A responsive, visually engaging website is incredibly important for your restaurant’s bottom line – especially when you keep in mind that 75% of consumers base their decision to dine at a restaurant around their online search results.

Ready to get started redesigning your restaurant’s website? Here are five web development tricks everyone in the service industry needs to know:

1.) Use Eye-Catching Visuals

There’s a reason we call cooking shows and brightly-lit fast food commercials “food porn,” after all: Images of steaming plates of food, crisp white tablecloths, or foaming pints of beer are all powerful, and all unbelievably effective at appealing to your website visitors’ emotions while helping you shape your joint’s brand narrative.

There are all sorts of ways to incorporate enticing visuals onto your site, from a striking header image to a playful Instagram gallery. And when it comes to developing your restaurant’s brand identity, images are key, so don’t skimp on quality. Point and click cellphone photography just won’t cut it; instead, look into having a professional photographer create high quality images that you can use for years to come. It’s a one-time expense that can have a huge impact on your brand – and your website’s ROI.

2.) Avoid Bulky Text

While it may be tempting to include detailed descriptions of your restaurant’s backstory or the ins and outs of your menu on your landing page, there’s a good chance that your visitors just won’t be that interested.

Attention spans are short, and a wall of text is a surefire way to turn off potential customers – focus on eye-grabbing images paired alongside searchable, snappy copy, instead. You will need to have some language on your website to inform your patrons, and search engines, what you're all about. Your location, and the meals you serve, for example, are pieces of text that should be prominent, and should be displayed plainly in text, not embedded in an image where a search engine won't pick it up.

Another option? Rather than relying on a ton of dense text on your landing page, maybe feature a navigation bar that will allow curious customers to learn more about you with tabs like “Our Story” or “Our Menu.” This will lead users to engage with your site and show search engines that your pages are full of value, leading to even more organic traffic.

3.) Attract New Customers and Cultivate Loyal Ones with an Active Blog

Another key to search and social media success? Every business - especially restaurants and bars - should look into maintaining an active, SEO-optimized blog: It’s a surefire way to increase your organic search results while building brand loyalty.

As we have shared many times before, "Investing in content generation gets the most bang for your buck, as having an active online presence has become increasingly essential for businesses of any type.  Content generation is the best way to give your company a voice during this age of social media popularity."

4.) Turn Online Visitors into Real World Patrons With a Clear Call to Action

Your website may be educational, totally intuitive and functional, and gorgeous to look at – but does it convert interested leads into paying customers? Your site may be beautiful, but without an effective call to action, it’s not really creating value for you.

So, let’s make sure your website is creating conversions! Make it easy for visitors to make a reservation with a built-in widget or a clear “contact” section with your business’ address and phone number. If your restaurant runs promotions or otherwise advertises on social media – and we really think it should – be sure to include links to your Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp pages. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to reach out to you; the more accessible and open you are, the hungrier visitors will be for your amazing restaurant.

5.) Make Sure Your Site is Appetizing on Mobile

Tablets and smartphones aren’t just for tech geeks anymore – by all metrics, they’re now how most of your potential customers are looking for and interacting with your brand online.

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re likely losing customers. Make sure your site is as elegant, easy-to-use, and visually appealing on mobile devices as it is on desktops, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your tables and bar stools full, night after night.

6.) Keep Your “Back of the House” Running Smoothly

So your site is clean and responsive on the front end – now it’s time to optimize the code on the “back end,” to help make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Configure Google Analytics to help keep tabs on your traffic patterns and engagement, add “Pixel” code to help retarget curious users on social media, and set up a contact form to help grow your email newsletter subscriber base.

Sound tricky? Would you rather keep your eyes on that steaming pot than on a computer monitor? That’s where we come in! Geek is here to help you keep all of your virtual plates spinning.

Our experienced team is here and ready take care of all of your restaurant or bar’s online needs, from web development to social media to email marketing. Check out what we’ve done for other businesses, and drop us a line today to get the conversation started!

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Jason Finn

Founder & Chief Geek

Jason has nearly 20 years of consulting experience, predominantly in the technology space. Most recently he was the COO and Director of Technology for Rich Casto & Company, a national training and consulting organization in the real estate industry.
As a consultant for IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, and Envision Consulting Group (now IMS Health), Jason has served clients of all sizes, including Big Pharma, Fortune 500, and Global 1000 companies:

  • Allstate Insurance Company
  • AOL (America Online)
  • Astellas Pharmaceuticals
  • Eli Lilly and Company
  • Ford Motor Credit
  • Wockhardt USA (formerly Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals)
  • Norwich Union
  • PNC Bank
  • Reynolds and Reynolds

Sarunas Budrikas

Creative Director

Sarunas is a web design and development expert with hundreds of successful projects in his portfolio. He is passionate about delivering extraordinary user experiences for every client and consistently goes above and beyond everyone’s expectations. As an SEO expert and strategist, he can optimize your website, or app, to get the most out of it, day in and day out. Sarunas holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Kaunas Technology University, in Lithuania. Sarunas now lives in Chicago, and calls it home.

Alexandra Olsavsky

Client Experience Specialist

Alex specializes in content generation and social media promotion for Geek | Chicago clients, helping to solidify their presence in the online community. This includes blog writing, graphic design, co-ordination and design of weekly newsletters, and active engagement on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. Outside of Geek, Alex is a classically-trained soprano who professionally performs around the city of Chicago (most recently with the Chicago Baroque Band, and with the Rolling Stones for their "50 and Counting" tour).