Website optimization tips for restaurant menus

Optimizing your restaurant's menu for online visitors is the first step in convincing them to visit your restaurant and come back in the future.

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April 19, 2018 3 min read

The presentation of your restaurant’s menu is a vital consideration for building positive customer sentiment, sharing specials and new dishes and encouraging future visits by diners. However, it’s not always a priority for chefs – and sometimes with good reason. The responsibility for menu presentation is often shared between the head chef, front-of-house managers, restaurant owners and other stakeholders. That doesn’t mean chefs shouldn’t pay attention to this vital part of promotion and communication with guests.

In today’s digital world, sharing the information online as well as through the physical menus handed to diners and local advertising is vital. The wide reach of an online menu – especially important if a restaurant offers some form of online ordering, whether delivery or take-out – is a crucial part of a restaurant’s identity. Let’s look at how students pursuing an online cooking certificate can ensure their digital menus are shared effectively and reliably.

Man using smartphone while sitting in front of computer.Making menus appealing for digital visitors should be a priority.

Easy visibility across all platforms

You already know people use a variety of devices to access the internet, from smartphones to tablets and powerful desktop computers. Your restaurant’s menu needs to be easily visible to every potential customer, whether their screen fits in the palm of their hand or could easily be mistaken for a big-screen TV.

One key consideration to make in this case is the need for your menu to quickly appear and, ideally, require no adjustment or additional action on the part of the viewer to begin reading. A few clicks should take them from the restaurant homepage to the menu, whether they want to place an order or simply see what you have to offer. For that reason, you should strongly consider having a plain-text, responsive design version of the menu, easily rendered on small phone screens, that either replaces or accompanies a PDF document.

Although the PDF offers a richer experience and can include more visual and textual information, it can be difficult to read on a mobile screen and require many instances of zooming in and out for customers to find what they’re looking for. As point-of-service technology provider Lightspeed pointed out, PDF menus simply aren’t mobile friendly. There’s nothing wrong with keeping the PDF in place for customers on full-sized screens, but you can no longer provide it as the only option.

Mobile friendly testing

The importance of mobile friendliness can’t be overstated, and it’s important in more ways than just the design and appearance of your menu. Your page’s display speed is a vital consideration – slow-loading pages are an instant turnoff to many visitors. Use tools like Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to determine whether your website will render easily and quickly on a smartphone or tablet. From there, you or your web designer can make the necessary changes to boost performance.

Offer information specifically for mobile customers

The motivations of active customers sitting down to look at your physical menu before ordering and potential diners considering your digital menu before coming in to visit are significantly different. That’s why it’s important to gear your online offering specifically to their needs. QSR Web suggested prioritizing easily visible prices, photos of your meals and current information about the menu to entice customers to walk in your front door. Creating as complete a picture as possible helps eliminate doubt and encourage action.

Although your online presence doesn’t come directly from your kitchen, it’s vital for bringing in customers. Make sure your menu is optimized for digital visitors to reap the benefits.

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