Looking to attract more prospects into your restaurant? Already have a desktop website and don't know if it is the right time to create a mobile optimized website? How to create it with a minimum of technical knowledge and at a minimum of expense?
Facts you should know
Following recent studies restaurants seems to be most searched industry on mobile devices. And with more Americans accessing the Web via mobile than desktop by 2015, building a mobile-friendly site is essential for businesses to prepare for the mobile movement.
- 92 percent of smartphone users search for restaurant
- 75 percent of consumers often choose a restaurant to dine at based on search results
- 80 percent think it's important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant
- 62 percent of consumers are less likely to choose a restaurant if they can't read the menu on a mobile device
A restaurant website geared for desktop users certainly has value. Such a site allows restaurant operators to post menus, photos, blogs, customer reviews and links to social media services. But with so many Internet users accessing the Web strictly via smartphones, operators need an additional presence.
A mobile website offers a number of key advantages over a desktop based site:
- Quick loading time and simplified browsing experience
- Optimized for smartphones screen size
- Users take action on mobile-friendly sites. One in 5 website visits lead to an immediate call to the business (Google, 2012)
- Powered with features dedicated to smartphones: click-to-call buttons, click-to-text buttons and special buttons that connect users to a table reservation service
- Increases search engine visibility. Having a mobile website is essential to be visible in mobile search engines. Online search can be a cost-effective way to create awareness for a restaurant, but most restaurants are not taking advantage of it
- integration with map-based services can lead a customer directly to a restaurant’s door
A few tips to make the most out of mobile site
The most important thing to keep in mind when considering a mobile website is to keep it simple. A mobile website overloaded with content can be difficult to navigate and will ultimately end up turning off users. In addition, these tips can aid in site usability:
- Keep it simple -When accessing your site via a mobile phone users are likely to be on the go: leaving the office, walking down the street or sitting in their cars. Let them get where they need to go with a minimum of swipes and clicks. Prioritize the content and features that mobile users need most.
- Simplify forms - Minimize the amount of text users need to input. Requiring users to fill out long forms, cuts down on user satisfaction.
- Be thumb-friendly - Give users just what they need. People use their fingers to operate mobile devices – especially their thumbs. Make sure to add essential action buttons like click-to-call, click-to-SMSs so mobile user can easily interact with it.
- Providing operating hours and a button to automatically dial the restaurant should be a feature of every operator's mobile site.
- Give driving directions - Make sure your customers know where your business is located and how to get to it. Ideally show your location on Google Maps and enable step by step driving directions.
- Include your menu - Research conducted by Chadwick Martin Bailey indicates that 75 percent of consumers think it's important to see a menu before they dine at a restaurant.
- Feature your brand - Create a unique site that reflects your brand. Include your restaurant's logo, colors or a picture of the restaurant. Include something that creates a connection between the site and your business. Add your Social Links such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube with your mobile website to help boost your profits even more.
- Choose the right partner - Operators need to work with a mobile website firm that guarantees that their site will run smoothly on all major mobile operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows Phone).
Where to start?
One of the main reasons restaurant operators often have a poor online presence is that those operator are experts in preparing food and serving customers, not website design. And with programming standards for mobile devices constantly evolving, keeping up with best practices in mobile site design can be a full-time job.
There are a number of free or low-cost tools available to assist restaurant operators with the task of building a mobile site. Some companies offer free mobile websites in conjunction with a site hosting package. Depending on the features, those sites can range from free sites supported by third-party advertising or ad-free sites a few dollars a month or more. Others offer template-based designs and hosting, with setup costs and monthly fees varying widely.
Over the past 8 years Greg has successfully completed complex international web projects across multiple industries. As chief marketing officer, he currently concentrates on mobile first design approach and is a part of ActiveMobi.com - a mobile website builder used by businesses to create a mobile website without programming skills.