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What’s Cooking for Restaurant Web Design

Published Aug 4, 2018

Has your restaurant been starving for a redesign? Is it in dire need of some TLC? Here is what’s cooking for restaurant web design these days.

“Hungry, hungry I am hungry

Table, table here I come

I could eat a goose-moose burger

Fifteen pickles and a purple plum.”

– Dr. Seuss

Ever been hungry like that?

That sounds a bit more like the amalgam of hungry and angry, better known in today’s vernacular as hangry. (which in itself sounds like a Dr. Seuss word)

Allow me to wonder, for a moment, how that verse would go…

“Hangry, hangry I am hangry

Gimme food you stupid jerk

Stick the funnel in my gullet

Feed me before I’m berserk”

– me

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No, it doesn’t quite have that Seussical flair, does it.

I think my version is a little too gritty– too real. I mean, whoever heard of a goose-moose burger, anyway?

Look, everyone knows that we’re all prone to get a little salty when we get hungry.

When we’re hangry, we’re never more short-tempered and easily frustrated. That’s one of the most important things to keep in mind when considering your restaurant web design.

Imagine a couple–  and it’s date night– and they’re really hungry.

driving hungry
They’re driving around and having that same dreaded conversation.

You know the one. It goes…

“Where do you want to eat?”

“I don’t know, where do you want to eat?”

“Where ever you want, honey? It doesn’t matter to me.”

“Okay, how about Tony’s Pizza?”

“I’m watching my carbs…” 

Ugh… ugh… ugh…

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So they finally choose a restaurant, your restaurant… but now, they’re flat out starving.

This is where good user experience that comes from strong restaurant web design is so crucial.

One of them decides to check the menu on your site from their mobile device and what happens?

Your restaurant web design– it’s just lame… There’s no menu, no location and it doesn’t load fast enough. (47% of users expect your page to load in under two seconds)

Then they call the restaurant, itself, and no one answers the phone. Now they’re frustrated and hungry.

What happens next? They choose another restaurant… Why? Because your restaurant web design stinks and it made them mad in less than 15 seconds.

And just like that… your business loses a customer, your rating drops and your word of mouth takes a negative hit. All that, in less than 15 seconds, because that’s all you’re going to get when someone is on your website and they’re hangry.

15 seconds….

You better make it count.

People are only coming to your restaurant’s website for 2 reasons; because they want to eat there or because they’re deciding if they want to eat there.

Either way, they’re hungry.

Hungry people are cranky people. Cranky people and bad restaurant web design are a very volatile mix.

“In 2018, it is more important than ever to have an effective web presence for your restaurant… A great website is the virtual front of the house for your restaurant. Millions of us are online, and with the myriad of web services competing for potential customers’ eyeballs — you only have a few seconds to capture their attention with a call to action.”

– Restaurant Logic

This all brings us to the question posed earlier.

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How important is restaurant web design?

Answer: Downright crucial.

The following will be an examination of some of the trends and vital elements that your restaurant web design needs in order to be effective and to help your business succeed.

Your Restaurant Web Design Needs to Look Good Enough to Eat!

Let’s start with the basics folks, the appetizers, if you’ll permit.

Your website needs to look good.

Keep the look open, don’t clutter the space with a lot of text. Simple is best.

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Professional Photography is a must!

Your photos need to be as beautiful and wonderful as your food. If they’re not appetizing, then people will associate that with your food.

Now whether you’re using images, or GIFs or Cinemagraphs they need to look fantastic.

Photography is not a place where you save money. This is the place to spend it.

Considering that your restaurant web design needn’t be overly involved, a good solid budget is at about $1500 .

Think about spending the same in photography.

“When a guest visits your website for the first time, what impression do you want them to get? Does the imagery on your website accurately reflect the quality of your food, service, and hospitality? Does it give them a sense of your overall style and aesthetic? Make them want to come in right away? Guests give your website roughly fifteen seconds to grab their attention. If you don’t make a strong impression on them within that timeframe, they’ll head off to the next website—and the next restaurant—instead of yours. Plus, high-quality images boosts SEO by creating searchable, organized content.”


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The Hero Image

Restaurant Web Design

(Can’t help but think of a sandwich in this context)

The Hero Image is a– BOOM!– in your face image that dominates the landing page. It can be a single, spectacular image of your food or part of a slideshow. It’s the first thing a person will see when they open your site.

Imagine a guy who is in the mood for steak. He goes to your site and the first thing he sees is a gorgeous, glistening, succulent sirloin!

He’d be like:

Hey, I’m in the mood for steak and — BAM, LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THAT STEAK. I’m gonna go to that restaurant and eat that steak!

That’s exactly how people who love steak sound. It’s a fact.

“For restaurant websites, a hero image offers an undeniable opportunity: whether you want to showcase a signature dish, your dining room, your bar, or the fact that you offer direct online ordering via your website, including a hero image is your chance to do so at the center of your digital presence.”

Matt Volpe

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Parallax Scrolling

Nowadays, people like to scroll. Especially mobile users. And since over 80% of the people accessing your site will be using a mobile device of some kind– that’s a pretty important thing to know.

Personally, when I scroll to the bottom of a page and see a  button, I generally get annoyed. Automatically think “click-bait” and then “X” out.

I want to keep scrolling!

Try to make your site one page when at all possible.

One-page restaurant web design is best. It’s simple, clean and people want to scroll, anyway.

And it’s worth reiterating: especially mobile users.

“Google considers pages with more content to be more valuable than those with little content. So, longer pages with more scrolling can lead to a higher website ranking in restaurant-related search results.”

– Gourmet Marketing

Your Restaurant Web Design has to have the Right Ingredients

There are certain boxes that all restaurant web design needs to tick.

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That old axiom is true. Location, location, location.

So, one of the first things you need to have clearly displayed at the top of your site is your location.

A link to Google Maps is a great idea. It’s convenient and plays right into the mobile-friendly design you’re going to want to craft.

Hours of Operation

Are you open for dinner? Breakfast and Lunch? All three?

That’s good information, that needs to be found at a glance.

And please, make sure this information is up to date and accurate.

The other day, it was a Sunday actually, I needed to make a certain purchase. Well, being that it was Sunday, a little after 1 in the afternoon, I didn’t just assume the store was open. I checked the website. It said that the store was open until 3 pm.

So I decided, just to be sure and because I know how world works, to call the store. No answer and no recording whatsoever.

Do you have a bad feeling about this? I did… but I drove out anyway.

When I got there– you guessed it– the place was CLOSED.

Scotch-taped to the window, written in light fluorescent-blue magic marker– a white sheet of paper explained, “Closed 1 o’clock on Sunday.”

Your website says one thing, your storefront says another.

The result? I will never go back to that store, again.


Yeah, so– hours of operation are required to be accurate. It’s a thing.

Your Restaurant Web Design has to have a Main Course

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Takeout options, Reservations, Rewards and the Menu

Restaurant Web Design

This all boils down to Interactivity and it’s the main thing needed in good restaurant web design. It needs be interactive. If it isn’t, then it ain’t today’s.

If you don’t have options for ordering food or making reservations from your site, please slap your forehead and go implement said options, posthaste.

Customers need to be able to order online, make reservations and purchase gift cards on your site. This type of service will increase business because it’s easy, convenient and intuitive.

Here’s where functionality edges out form.

If your site looks great, but doesn’t work properly– It will be hated all the more. Just like the handsome athlete/antagonist (most often played by William Zabka, i.e. Back to School and Karate Kid) in 80s movies.

Make sure your technology works.

“Identify what your visitors’ goals are and determine how they will get there. Have all of your restaurant’s important information—like reservations, phone number, and address—front and center to enable a better user experience.”

– BentoBox

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If customers are coming to your site with the goal of ordering food, your goal should be to help them. The experience should be so intuitive, they’re barely aware they’re being led.

That’s great user experience and brilliant restaurant web design.

Additionally, offer rewards to customers who use your online features. Offer memberships and privileges with discounts. Talk about an easy way to create a mailing list!

Then, once you have said mailing list, you get to promote your events and offer exclusive stuff to your members.

The best thing about all this marketing is that it’s all based on customers interacting with your site to order takeout or make reservations– which is the main thing they’ll be doing, anyway.

All that being said, if you’re going to be ordering takeout or making reservations, the odds are they’re going to want to look at a…..


Hopefully, there are people who have been reading this blog, thinking:

When is this bigmouth going to get to the menu, already?

Of course the menu!

Guys, if you need me to tell you that your restaurant web design should include an up to date menu for customers to peruse at their leisure, then we may as well start talking about how fire cooks food… unless you’re serving sushi.

So yes, include your menu. Do your best to keep open spaces and clean fonts.

If you have too many options for that to be possible, just say so and show your greatest hits.

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Your Restaurant Web Design has to Set the Mood

restaurant web design to set the moodI prefer the word ambiance’ but I wasn’t sure if you guys speak French.

Whatever language you choose, it should be inviting.

Your images, enticing.

Here’s where your personal brand comes across.

Include Your Story

A section that talks about the food you offer and why.
This is where you establish relationships and invite people to hangout with you. Carve out your niche. Build your tribe.

“Considering restaurants are social environments by nature, marketing efforts must be engaging, interesting and appeal to customers in their geo-location.”


Include your social media follow links. Link to your reviews and encourage others to leave reviews, too.

Your online reputation is huge. Star ratings are still number 1, along with Yelp ratings.

Respond to your reviews, the good and the bad, but do it in such a way that you always maintain a professional attitude. Keep the kind and inviting persona going no matter what.

If you’re in a tourist economy Trip Adviser is going to be one of your best tools.

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How important is restaurant website design in 2018?

Downright crucial.

It needs to look great.

It needs to work great

It needs to be great.

It’s the new storefront experience of a new age and because of that, there are things that just can’t be overlooked.

Things your site needs to have: location, hours of operation, phone number, takeout options, reservations, rewards and your menu.

If you’re ready to back away from the table because it’s all too much and you’re full, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This year, when Benjamin Restaurant Group, a leading restaurant group in NYC and Westchester, was looking to update key elements of their web design and add e-commerce functionality, they went to CMDS for their experience, guidance and e-commerce integration expertise.

CMDS worked with Benjamin’s internal marketing team to develop solutions for brand identity and help create a custom restaurant web design for their retail component, Benjamin at Home.

They can do the same for you.

Whether your restaurant’s a fast casual, casual dining, fine dining, bar, lounge or nightclub, CMDS can offer you the right marketing, branding and web solutions you need.

Find out how CMDS blends food, creative marketing, brand expertise and web design solutions that your customers are gonna love!

Let’s grab a quick bite and discuss. Or give us a shout at (732) 706-5555 to learn more.

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