It’s no secret that your restaurant’s online presence matters. A whopping 77% of customers visit a restaurant's website before choosing to visit or order delivery, proving that digital marketing is important for your business. But these days, simply being online isn’t enough. With 68% of diners choosing to eat elsewhere due to a restaurant’s website mistakes, you need a website that both looks professional and strategically converts online visitors into paying customers.
To help you revamp your website for today’s diners, we’ve assembled a list of frequent online pitfalls that prevent restaurants from realizing their full potential. What are the top website mistakes that restaurants make? Here are 12 common errors — and how you can go about fixing them.
Leaving out basic business information
When customers visit your restaurant’s website, they’re typically looking for a few basic pieces of information, like your location, phone number, operating hours, and how to make reservations. Omitting these key details can leave diners wondering — and they may simply go somewhere else rather than spend time searching for answers. After adding these details to your site, check that they’re clear and easy to find. An “About Us” or “Contact” page is universally recognized by site visitors as a place where this information lives.
Building a restaurant website that’s not mobile-friendly
We do everything from our phones these days, and ordering food is no exception. In 2020, 11% of quick-service restaurant sales came from mobile orders — and this doesn’t even include sales from people who came across a new restaurant on social media and decided to try it out in person. Capturing these potential customers will be increasingly key to your restaurant’s success, which means having a mobile-friendly website is non-negotiable.
If your website looks great on a desktop browser but has a less-than-impressive phone or tablet presence, check if your website builder has an editing feature for mobile design. If not, consider switching to a platform like Squarespace and Wix, which have built-in responsive design features to ensure your website looks appealing on any device.
Adding too much text (in unreadable fonts)
Another common restaurant website mistake? Overdoing it on copy. The last thing hungry customers want to do is read paragraphs of text after navigating to your website. Stick to simple, concise copy that conveys exactly what customers need to know and nothing more. Do you serve Spanish tapas with a modern twist? Fast-casual grain bowls for health-minded folks? Make your message clear — but keep it short. In addition to the text on your web pages, keep your menu descriptions compelling yet brief as well (more on that in tip #8).
While you’re revamping your copy, consider whether the text is legible against your website’s background or in its current font size. Customers don’t want to read a novel — and they may be turned off trying to decipher hard-to-read text.
Uploading unflattering or inaccurate photos
You know the saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. According to a survey by MGH, 45% of diners seek out photos when visiting a restaurant’s website — and 36% decide not to order due to bad ones. If your website photos don’t do your food justice, customers may never make it through your doors to find out how delicious those dishes truly are.
Wondering how to take amazing menu photos? Harsh lighting, unflattering angles, and grainy resolutions are just a few of the common culprits of lackluster food photos. If you can, borrow a high-quality camera and shoot in the morning or late afternoon when natural lighting is best. Keep the background simple so your dishes can really shine. Not feeling confident in your photography skills? DoorDash partners are eligible for a free professional photoshoot to bring their marketing to the next level.
Overlooking SEO efforts
A beautiful website won’t be very useful if customers can’t find it in the first place. SEO, or search engine optimization, ensures that your website will appear among the top results when customers look for restaurants, cuisines, or dishes in their area. For instance, if a lot of diners search “vegetarian dinner options in Orlando” and you cater to this crowd, you’ll want to feature those keywords throughout your website.
Tools like Google Analytics can help you understand how many visitors your site receives, what time of day they’re coming, and which keywords are driving your web traffic. With these insights, you can double down on the phrases or descriptions that are hooking prospective customers in search results. Optimizing your Google Maps and Google My Business listings is another important SEO strategy, since it serves as a sort of homepage for local consumers to learn more about your business, your cuisine, your reviews, and your location.
Forgetting an email signup form
Having website visitors is great — but capturing their information and staying top of mind by sending enticing offers to their inbox is even better. If you don’t have a form where customers can subscribe for news on your restaurant’s special events and promotions, you’re missing an opportunity to turn one-time visitors into loyal regulars. Adding a pop-up window or banner for your sign-up form — or giving customers the chance to opt in to email updates when placing their order — will help you organically grow your following.
Using PDF menus
One of the most common mistakes in menu design is uploading it as a PDF. Creating a PDF menu might be convenient, but it could also sabotage your online visibility over the long run. The best restaurant websites use HTML for their menus because it can easily be crawled by search engines. Most search engines prioritize website pages over PDFs, so when customers search for specific dishes in their area — like fish tacos, chicken noodle soup, or lobster rolls — they’ll most likely see web-based menus in search results instead of your PDF.
Vague menu descriptions
Once your restaurant’s website menu is SEO-friendly , it's time to make sure the menu itself is realizing its full potential. Do the menu descriptions paint a vivid, appealing picture of each dish — and are you giving customers enough information about the ingredients and where they came from? Think of menu descriptions as a way to lure diners in, and providing ample details about your dishes will help people with dietary restrictions or food allergies rest assured they can safely eat at your establishment.
When writing copy for a dish, be sure to include its key ingredients, accompaniments, and details about its preparation — along with a few sensory words. For more tips about building an effective restaurant menu, check out our guide to writing mouth-watering food descriptions.
Building your restaurant website on Flash
Adobe Flash Player was once a popular choice for website builders, but those days have come and gone. In addition to no longer being supported by Adobe, Flash can’t be crawled by search engines and comes with a number of security issues. At the end of the day, if your restaurant website lives on Flash, your SEO and overall online presence will suffer — and customers will have a hard time finding you.
Including outdated information
There’s nothing more confusing and frustrating than a restaurant website filled with outdated information, especially when the information conflicts with details shared by other online sources. Incorrect hours, a broken telephone line, or last season’s menu are all red flags that can be easily avoided. Simply scheduling a regular time (e.g. once a month) to make sure your website is up to date will save a lot of headaches for potential diners.
Omitting positive press and customer reviews
According to a survey by GatherUp, 58% of diners read online reviews before deciding where to eat at least 25% of the time. Highlighting positive reviews right on your restaurant’s website can be the extra nudge potential customers need to place an order.
Feature glowing comments in a sidebar on your website, or create a simple graphic to show how many stars you’ve received on Yelp or Google Reviews. Was your website mentioned in a news article? Don’t forget to include it somewhere on your site to gain new visitors’ trust.
Missing online ordering links
The National Restaurant Association predicts that customers will place a majority of their takeout and delivery orders digitally by 2030. The bottom line for restaurants? There’s no better time to set up an online ordering platform and capture this growing customer segment.
You don’t have to be tech-savvy to create an online ordering website for your restaurant. DoorDash Storefront is an online ordering platform that allows you to easily add delivery and pickup ordering to your current website. Simply sign up, add your menu, customize it to match your restaurant’s branding, and publish it. It only takes a few minutes to set up and, best of all, orders are commission-free.
Create a restaurant website that sells
Want more insight on crafting a standout restaurant website and marketing strategy? Download our ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Restaurant Website Marketing for tips on attracting new customers with a strong online presence.