Many restaurants hire professional designers to build their website, but hiring a professional doesn’t guarantee a great result.
We talked to Jill Parks, Creative Director of Savannah design firm Sans Sheriff for tips on what to do (and not do) to give you the best chance of getting an amazing restaurant website that works for you and your customers.
Before you build your website
- Picking a designer. Website design is a collaborative process. A great portfolio is a must, but you have trust and communicate with them.
- Know your message. Help your designer by telling them what’s most important to you. Online ordering? Reservations? Your menu? Your famous chef? This will provide the designer with an organizing principle.
- Invest in quality images. It rarely works to “sit there with a regular ‘ol camera and take food pictures,” says Jill. You are selling food; the food should look tasty. A good designer will have an unbiased, educated eye for what photos work best.
During the build
- Be upfront about what you want. Having examples of websites you like will help focus design discussions set appropriate expectations up front.
- Listen to the designer. It should be “a collaboration…a give and take,” says Jill. but remember that just as “the restaurant is the expert on food, the designer is the the expert [on web design].” Trust is key.
After you launch
- Track site analytics. There are free tools your designer can give you so you know what your customers do on your website- what pages they see, buttons they click, etc. The data you get from analytics will tell you if you built the right site.
- Update your website. Check-in every few months to make sure the site is working for you and your customers. Just like you review the menu with your chef, review the analytics with your designer. You must have a way to update site content yourself or budget updates from your designer.
A website is often the first experience a customer has with your restaurant. You should take building and maintaining it seriously. If you use a designer, use one you like, trust and respect. You’ll get a lot more out of working with them.
Jillison Parks is Creative Director of Sans Sheriff Studio, multimedia designer and creative consultant with over fifteen years of experience in graphic design, technical writing and information management. She recently designed websites for Angel’s BBQ, Papillote and the Moon River Brewing Company.
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