A recent independent study was released regarding restaurant websites, and the news wasn’t shocking, but it didn’t bode well for many local & independent restaurants: less than half independently-owned restaurants have a website, and even fewer have a mobile-specific version of their site. By comparison, 99% of chain restaurants have a website, with 63% of chains having a mobile-specific version.
I probably don’t have to tell you why this isn’t good news. More and more (and more), users are using the good ol’ interwebs as their primary means to seek out information about products & services, and restaurants are no exception. The Summers Hospitality Group has found that 89% of consumers will use the Internet to search for local restaurants and 57% will visit a restaurant’s website to view menus, photographs, directions and read consumer reviews. This trend has become more marked with the use of smartphones (Source: restaurantworx.com & GMRWeb). That is simply too huge a demographic to ignore: having no website means restaurants are missing out on huge volumes of potential customers: this is particularly troubling for the independents who don’t have the capital, and name recognition, that the chains have. They, more than anyone, need to be out there, letting the world know about them.
Of course, websites are just one part of your web presence: there’s always Facebook & Twitter — which numbers show are used more often by independents as an inexpensive (read: free) means to be online. This is great — a restaurant SHOULD have a Facebook page, but Facebook should enhance your web presence, not define it. Facebook is fantastic for certain things, not so hot for others. It’s difficult to connect with new users and convince them to come into your establishment via Facebook alone. Facebook is best suited for connecting w/ your existing customers and .keeping them engaged in your brand. But it’s very difficult to establish a brand with Facebook, to set the tone of your restaurant, and really convince new users to come through the doors. It shouldn’t, by any means, replace the existence of a core website, which should be the central hub of your online presence.
Remember: customers are increasingly brand-centric these days, and your website is a big piece of that brand: it should accurately reflect the type of experience they can expect when they come to visit.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune: yes, good design takes time (and time=money), but budget-strapped restaurants can put simple, clean and easy-to-use sites online that will at least get the ball rolling in establishing their presence. Even if it’s just a one-pager. We’ve worked with many different restaurants, with different needs & budgets, and have created a wide range of sites from the simple to the not-so-simple. We, as well as any other design shop worth their salt, can work with a range of budgets to tailor a solution that is an appropriate fit.
But the bottom line: Restaurant owners, time to get your website up and running! Don’t have a design shop? Well shucks, you should drop us a line today!