Many people often think of a website as just another unnecessary expense along with all of the other line items on the inventory list that need to be purchased. That’s understandable when you have so many things to keep track of and plan on.
But a restaurant website is an invaluable tool that works for you even when you’re closed. Day and night, this consistent little employee of yours does its job of waving on potential visitors and giving them a quick tour of your space, your brand, and your menu. Even while you sleep, they are at the ready as your digital host welcoming customers to their future tables.
This metaphor of website-as-employee is a helpful analogy to keep in mind when thinking about the value that it can bring. It is an extension of your business, not an extra cost.
But as with most things of value, a restaurant website costs money. There is so much that goes into one, from the creative to the technical—all for the purpose of serving your restaurant and ultimately your customers. In order for it to do the best job it can, every facet will have to come together to make one powerful piece.
As someone in the restaurant industry, you know better than most that the price of a dish is completely dependent on the quality of ingredients. So let’s break down some of the elements that go into the building of a website so we know where it’s all coming from.
1/2 Cup of Design
You guessed it! Your restaurant’s website needs design. It needs to not only show great images of your location and menu items but also show off your brand and all of the unique characteristics that help it stand out. When a visitor lands on your homepage, you want them to feel like it’s your home page. Everything from the colors to fonts to the overall layout affects your guest’s experience and expectations.
Building a corner of the internet that properly conveys your brand takes creativity and expertise—knowing just how to manage the visual assets in a way that guides people from visiting the website to visiting the restaurant.
1/2 Cup of Content
You may not expect the words to be a part of the branding itself, but it plays a huge roll in the articulation of who you are and what you’re about. This is all part of your brand which is aimed at a particular type of audience using specific language, jargon, and keywords to make them feel like it was written with them in mind.
Many prolific and creative restaurant owners like to take this writing challenge on for themselves, and that can be a great way to keep everything in your voice. But with the chaos of life and work, it can be necessary to have an external team do it for you—someone has a step back from your daily grind and can deeply think about your customer from a different perspective than maybe you have.
12 oz of Functionality
You could have beautifully persuasive poetry that leaps off the page through captivating aesthetics. But none of that is helpful if the website doesn’t work. And work well. And work well on smartphones.
This is where creative expression meets technical execution, and that encounter needs to be seamless to provide a meaningful experience. Statistics show that the first few seconds of someone’s landing on a website are crucial. If it’s not handled just right, the chances are those eyes will bounce right off the page and right back to Google.
It could even be a matter of just a few extra seconds of loading time that can make the difference in whether a visitor stays on your site. It could be that your site isn’t optimized for certain devices or the experience is entirely different between them. These little functionality issues make a big difference.
Add Flexibility to Taste
Once your site goes live, it is critical that it stays fresh and up to date. If a visitor lands on your page and sees a live music event or specialty dinner from three years ago, they’ll get the distinct sense that there is not very much happening at your restaurant on a regular basis. And without current and up to date content, they will miss out on what’s actually happening—events they would probably love to attend and new menus they would love to taste.
A website that is easy to edit is worth its megabytes in gold. Whether you can make the changes yourself or have an ongoing relationship with someone who can, the maintenance of a live website over the years should be a simple and easy process.
Bake at 375 degrees for a couple weeks
Put it all together and what have you got?
So how much should all of that cost? Well, I’m glad you asked. It means that you’re on the right track to opening your doors even wider and valuing your guests’ experience.
And the initial answer might seem a little vague—it completely depends.
We’ll break this down into more detail in future blog posts, but there are lot more features that a restaurant website can include beyond what’s listed above. This could include other things like table reservation, online shopping, and unique landing pages. It could be a completely original design or it could be based on an existing template. The range of costs between those is very wide.
Another key factor is ‘who is doing what?’ On one end of the spectrum, you could have an agency build out every detail, provide the photos, the design, the content, everything from the ground up. And that can easily cost anywhere from thousands of dollars to tens of thousands. For a lot of young or overhead heavy restaurants, that can be a big expense to take on.
On the other hand, you could do it yourself. Or even, what we’ve seen numerous times, bring in a nephew who has an Instagram account and can take the time to figure out a cheap website builder or buy a cheap WordPress theme. And that’s definitely an option! It’s going to take some extra time, but save you some upfront money. But in those situations, it’s definitely important to consider what exactly you’re trading off. Is the website geared toward your specific goals and does it meet all of the quality ingredients listed above?
So how much does our restaurant website cost?
We looked at those two options for restaurants like you and didn’t like what we saw. We understand the need for saving costs, but also the level of quality necessary to successfully invite customers. So we built a platform that fits nicely right in between all of that.
We can design your site with one of our themes—each being very flexible so that we make your menu come alive according to your brand. It’s mobile-friendly, and all with restaurants in mind. We make it easy to update, and we can even take care of any changes you need. We can even provide written content, photography, illustration, and so much more—starting at just $800.
Ultimately, it all comes down to your priorities and how much you value your brand and crafting the guest’s experience at every turn. Powerful marketing and branding can bring huge returns on investment when done right—so we believe it’s worth considering.