Five Essentials of a Good Restaurant Website

A page from the website of Le Bernardin Privé, designed by IdeaWork Studios.
A page from the website of Le Bernardin Privé, designed by IdeaWork Studios. IdeaWork Studios

Make sure your restaurant's online presence has "curb appeal."

Whether on a vacation, tired after a long day of work, or simply looking for a special place to go on “date night,” consumers are highly engaged with looking for the next great restaurant to satisfy their hunger pangs—or simply entertainment cravings. When those pangs and cravings emerge, these days they’re likely to go online. But if they come to your website, will it provide them with the information they’re looking for to make a decision to make a reservation? You can find a number of great firms that are able to design any website for you. However, the best option would be to find a company that specializes in designing and developing restaurant websites.

IdeaWork Studios is a full-service agency that works with restaurants to help them develop, or modify, websites to best attract their target audiences. Through their work, they’ve discovered some “must do’s” and best practices that help them make sure they’re addressing audience needs.

Here are some of the essentials to having a good restaurant website.

Image and Atmosphere

When consumers are walking down a city street looking for a place to eat, they get a sense of the restaurant from its “curb appeal;” they can peer into the windows to get a sense of the atmosphere or ambience. Those elements are important to potential diners and they’re equally as important on your website. Your website needs to quickly and clearly convey the atmosphere of your restaurant. Consider the different atmosphere that the Hooters and The Inn at Pound Ridge website convey. Your image needs to be as immediately apparent to website visitors as it would be to those strolling past your restaurant.


Diners are moved visually by images of the offerings that restaurants have to provide. That means that your website must contain not only photos, but vibrant, high-quality, professionally done photos. Instagram shots just won’t do it here. 


“What’s on the menu?” It’s a critical question and one that your website needs to answer. Chances are, those visiting your website are also checking out the competition; how are you going to display your menu offerings in ways that will set you apart and, ultimately, make them choose you? Keep in mind that, unlike in your actual restaurant setting, servers aren’t available to answer questions or provide additional information. Whether or not to include pricing on your menu will be a decision that will be tied, to a large degree, to your desired image, but is an important consideration. For many diners, it’s an obvious question and one they’ll want to find answers to on your site.

Mobile Optimization

When hungry travelers are on the road they’re often turning to their mobile devices to find a spot to eat. When they do, your site needs to be optimized to display well in the mobile environment and to provide the kind of contextualized experience they’re looking for. For instance, while on the road, they’re likely most interested in your hours and location.

Contact Information

Don’t overlook the obvious. Those who visit your website are making a decision about where to go to eat. If you don’t tell them where you’re located, or give them easy-to-find information about how to make a reservation, you may lose them to the competition. And there’s a lot of competition in the restaurant industry.

Think of your restaurant’s website as your restaurant! It should convey the same sense of atmosphere, ambience, and brand that you attempt to achieve in your physical facility—and it should provide an easy-to-understand (and easy-to-navigate) experience for visitors whether they’re on a laptop, tablet, or mobile device.

The opinions of contributors are their own. Publication of their writing does not imply endorsement by FSR magazine or Journalistic Inc.

Jay Schwartz

Jay Schwartz is the founder, chief creative officer, and visionary behind IdeaWork Studios, a full-service branding and interactive agency with offices in Santa Barbara, New York, Austin, and Las Vegas. IdeaWork prides itself on being the antidote to the big-agency experience; the team focuses on excellence and efficiency, delivering big-agency quality work, but without the big-agency bureaucracy. IdeaWork specializes in the hospitality, nightlife, gaming, and luxury industries. Jay is also an accomplished street painter, having traveled all over the world creating murals on the pavement using chalk pastels, and has been featured at festivals internationally.


Add new comment