Consumers today are pulling out their phones more than ever to research the world around them, including finding the best place to eat. Restaurants that don’t have a mobile-optimized website will be at a disadvantage in both search results and the perception of today’s mobile-oriented consumers.
As of June 2014, mobile internet usage exceeded desktop usage for the first time. Despite this massive increase in mobile usage, the shift toward mobile hasn’t been fully embraced by businesses, with more than 45 percent saying they don’t have a mobile site or app right now, according to Econsultancy.
When it comes to restaurants, consumers are actively researching and making eating decisions from their mobile devices. A survey by Constant Contact reports that 92 percent of consumers searched for a restaurant on their mobile browser at least once in a six-month span.
Google reports that mobile searches for restaurants can also be tied directly to conversions. The research found that 54 percent of people who use a mobile device to research a restaurant eventually make a purchase.
To fully take advantage of the exploding mobile market, restaurants need to adopt mobile web design best practices. These basics will help grow mobile search rankings and create the best experience for mobile users.
Build from a Responsive Design
Responsive design is the preferred way to design mobile websites because of the ability to adapt to any size screen and giving consumers a consistent experience on any device. Responsive design also allows restaurants to have one website for both desktop and mobile users, rather than two versions of the same website that need to be updated separately.
Consider Mobile Limitations
The layout of the responsive design website should be created with the mobile consumer in mind. Specifically, mobile users don’t usually have the ability to use a mouse or full keyboard; therefore, restaurants need websites that are easy to use with a finger or stylus. To help mobile users be able to easily click links, access features, read text, and browse the site, restaurants should consider using large images as links instead of text and creating a drop-down menu that allows for easy access to the most popular information and pages.
Make the Menu Prominent
Research shows that 70 percent of consumers think it’s important to be able to read a menu on a mobile device. The same survey found that 62 percent of consumers said they were less likely to choose a restaurant if they couldn’t find and access the menu on their phone. This data should convince restaurants that the menu should be one of the most featured pieces of content on the website. It should also be easy to find. To allow for the menus to load faster on mobile phones, restaurants should consider separating the menus into sections such as lunch, dinner, dessert, and drinks.
Location, Location, Location
According to Google, 61 percent of mobile consumers use store locators for businesses. Mobile users are looking to find a restaurant near them, so it makes sense that location information is important to them. If a restaurant has more than one location, a separate webpage should be built for each location that focuses on that one location’s information. Content that should be included on a location page includes hours of operation, phone number, any unique menu information, and the address that links mobile users directly to a mapping app. By doing this, restaurants can remove many of the barriers that prevent mobile consumers from finding and making a purchase.
Make Reservations Easy
While many mobile shoppers are looking to make an immediate purchasing decision, restaurant reservations are still one of the most sought after digital features. Restaurants looking to capitalize on these mobile planners should make sure to have an easy way to make a reservation on a mobile device. Some options include utilizing a click-to-call button that automatically connects the consumer with someone at the restaurant or a link to a third-party site that takes online reservations like OpenTable. Another option is creating a unique mobile that lists the available open times and allows mobile users to book a table without ever leaving the site. The easier it is for a mobile consumer to make a reservation, the less likely they are to continue searching for other restaurants.
Restaurants have a massive opportunity when it comes to mobile searchers. To increase the ability to capture these mobile users and convert them into eaters, restaurants should optimize their website for mobile. By using responsive design that is easy to use on small screens and features that deliver what hungry searchers want, restaurants have the ability to maximize potential sales.
The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.