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Tips for creating a visually appealing website to increase restaurant reservations

Ally Lane

Restaurant websites are no longer just a place to host your menu. Today, they offer savvy restaurateurs incredible conversion opportunities through sophisticated reservation management software.

But it takes more than just a ‘plug and play’ approach to leverage the full potential of this software and boost reservations to your restaurant.

Like any marketing strategy, increasing reservations requires an optimized and visually appealing website experience.

Read our blog: Six ways restaurants can dominate voice search marketing

How can restaurant owners create a visually appealing digital experience that will persuade users to book a table? Read on for our tips below.

  1. Feed their eyes first with custom photography

    When it comes to tantalizing website imagery, restaurant owners have it made in the shade.

    Food imagery is by its very nature extremely compelling. High definition shots of juicy steak, cheesy lasagna and moist chocolate cake trigger our primal urge for high-calorie foods and tempt us to seek out these foods at their source.

    The ancient Roman gourmand Apicius coined the phrase, ‘We eat first with our eyes.” When choosing website imagery, keep this saying in mind. Invest in high-quality photography and video content for your website to bring your menu items to life and encourage diners to book a reservation.

    Custom photography has the added benefit of elevating your brand and giving it a premium look and feel. While it may require a significant investment, keep in mind this imagery can be used on social media accounts, on advertisements, on your menu and on signage throughout your restaurant.

  2. Place reservation buttons prominently on your website

    “Don’t make them think” is the most effective way to design the user experience on your restaurant’s website. Place the ‘Make a Reservation’ button in a prominent place (either just above the fold, in the top right-hand section of your navigation menu, or, ideally, both). Add it to the footer as well for good measure. Ensure the button is large, in a high contrast colour and is easy to see.

    Read our blog: How to streamline online reservations with Reserve with Google

    Also, ensure your phone number is equally prominent on your site and that the phone number is clickable. Customers often have questions about their reservations and like to speak to a human to get answers, so ensuring a phone number is easily available will help boost the number of bookings.

  3. Design a frictionless reservation process

    Most reservation software allows you to customize the booking process for your restaurant. Before you get started, decide how much information you need from your prospective diners. The shorter the form, the less ‘friction’ there is and the lower the drop-off rate. The more information you need diners to provide, the higher chance they’ll abandon the reservation process entirely.

    Think carefully about requiring credit card info. This is the ultimate point of friction in the reservation process and can be off-putting to prospective diners. Weigh this up against the impact of no-shows and decide what’s best for your business.

  4. Show off your menu

    Many restaurateurs simply upload their menu as a PDF to their website and call it a day. But it’s a lost opportunity to showcase the potential of your offering and create a more visually engaging experience for diners.

    First, ensure your menu displays in a responsive way, so it’s optimized for the device it’s being viewed on (either mobile, tablet or desktop). Consider creating tiles, tabs or dropdowns for different meals you serve (breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner) and sections of your menu (apps, mains, desserts, drinks, alcohol, etc). Include high-resolution imagery wherever possible and indicate which items are best-sellers.

    Make sure you include a ‘Make a Reservation’ button on all pages of your website and especially on each page of your menu.

  5. Highlight important information

    Most users want just a few things from a restaurant website – the location, the operating hours, the menu and the ability to make a reservation. With the menu and reservation options covered above, we move on to operating hours and location.

    Creating a location page with an embedded Google Map featuring the address ensures diners can easily find your restaurant. Make sure to include directions as well as information about parking and images of the front of the restaurant.

    Read our blog: How to leverage customer reviews to boost your SEO performance

    Clearly display your operating hours and ensure they’re always up-to-date, especially around holidays. Make sure to update your hours on your Google Business Listing as well. 

    Have any special offers, promotions or discounts? List them on their own page and highlight them on your homepage as well. Be clear about the terms and conditions and use high-quality imagery and a ‘Make a Reservation’ now button to encourage would-be diners to book a table. 

    A visually appealing website plays a huge role in increasing restaurant reservations. If you need help designing a beautiful, highly-converting site for your restaurant, we can help. Creative Guild has a team of experienced designers and UX experts who have been building optimized websites for Canadian restaurants for more than a decade. Get in touch with us today to find out more.