Consider the needs of the consumer, and your product will generate strong brand loyalty. This bit of solid advice finds application in every aspect of business, but especially in a restaurant’s website. The Internet has unarguably replaced the telephone directory as the primary source of commonly sought information. Customers visiting a restaurant’s website are seeking specific information. The customer needs you to tell them what they want to know without having to hunt for it. You need to reward your customer for taking the time to visit your restaurant’s website.
Restaurant websites rank among the top categories visited on a mobile device. Customers want to know where, when, and how to find a restaurant. Mobile site design needs to bear these factors in mind, and give the customer clear information as quickly and efficiently as possible. Mobile browsing applications don’t always correctly render complex formatting or animated objects; simple designs load more quickly and accurately, allowing the customer direct access to information. Frequently accessed information should be placed prominently on the page; customers should never have to search for the restaurant’s operating hours, telephone number for reservations or carry-out orders, or location. It’s okay to put complex information like maps and menus behind a link, but make those links prominent. Menu imagery and visual presentation is important, but search engines cannot index image files that aren’t correctly tagged with metadata.
Customers browsing the restaurant website have placed themselves in an ideal position from which to be reached by the marketer. This is the best time to provide the customer with information immediately relevant to their decision but which they didn’t even know they needed. Specific restaurant ads such as featured menu items, limited-time offers, and specialty services must be actively brought to the customer’s attention. Customers who have taken the time to visit your restaurant’s website want to know about you; they just don’t always know which questions to ask. The best design practices place these important but secondary elements of the site either behind a prominent link or “below the fold” where the customer has to scroll to see them.
After the customer has discovered new information about your restaurant it’s time to reward him for taking time to visit. Website-exclusive promotions can result in immediate conversion of undecided consumers. A mobile reservation system can cut wait times or deter customers when a restaurant is in the weeds; helping the customer avoid a negative experience is just as important as generating a positive one. Customers can browse the menu while they travel, and discover related businesses. Every restaurant exists within a community of businesses; taking time to direct interested consumers to them builds consumer rapport and can generate back-links. An interactive feedback option lets a restaurant gather valuable information about the customer’s experience.
Mobile website design requirements share many commonalities, which may be customized to the needs of a restaurant. Visual designs should use high-contrast text areas and be vertically aligned. Large images present loading and display problems; animated and interactive objects require specific software support not always available for mobile displays. The site should be easy to navigate, present the customer with important information not commonly sought, and reward the customer for time spent visiting.