So you know you need a website for your restaurant, but you also know you need to design a small business website that represents your restaurant well, and ideally, serves as a marketing tool. We’ll show you how you can easily design a restaurant website so that it not only looks good, but also helps entice visitors to become patrons. Design a site that gets found online and gets people coming through your doors by following our five easy steps.
1. Choose a Content Management System (CMS)
The first step in designing your restaurant website is choosing which site builder to use. This is an important decision that lays the foundation for your website, including how easy (or difficult) it is to design, build, launch, and manage, as well as how much it will cost. You have a number of options, from using WordPress to building a site with ultra-easy, drag-and-drop site builders such as Squarespace or Wix. Take your time to determine which is right for you, then navigate to that CMS.
Here are the most popular CMS and site builders for restaurant websites:
While WordPress is the world’s leading CMS platform, it can be difficult to use. If you’re looking for an easy way of building your restaurant website, consider using Squarespace. It’s not only easy to use, but it also offers a number of prebuilt restaurant templates, and it has OpenTable and ChowNow integrations built in. For these reasons, we’re going to use Squarespace for the following steps.
If you’re still not sure which CMS to use, start by learning more about the best website builders.
2. Browse & Select a Restaurant Template
The next step when designing a restaurant website with Squarespace is to browse and select a template. What’s great about Squarespace, and why it’s recommended for restaurants, is that it has an entire collection of templates designed for restaurants. It’s a good idea to opt for a restaurant template as opposed to another design. This makes customizing it easier, and saves you time and energy since your template will already come with everything your restaurant site needs.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to help you choose the right template:
- Does it match the brand of your restaurant? For example, a very modern restaurant should have a modern website, whereas an old-school diner may have a more retro-looking site.
- Does it come with everything you need? For example, if you’re looking to take online reservations with your site, be sure to choose a template that comes with reservations built in. This will help make your life even easier when designing your site.
- Is it easy to navigate? Hover over the template and click “Preview” to see a live demo of the site. Play around with it as if it were a real site you were visiting and ask yourself if you like how it looks and functions.
Once you have found the template you want to use, hover over it and click “Start with…” This will then prompt you to input your restaurant’s name, and it will bring you to the site editor, where you can begin the next step of customizing and designing your restaurant website.
3. Customize Your Template
Next, you’ll begin customizing your restaurant website, including adding your own logo, updating the header and footer, adding and removing pages (e.g., your locations, hours, and menu), and adding any integration (e.g., OpenTable). Squarespace is a user-friendly site editor, but it does take a little while to become familiar with how it works.
Here are a few tips for designing your restaurant site:
- Include your menu as a page in your navigation.
- If you offer online reservations or ordering, include a link to that in your header.
- Use high-quality photos of your restaurant and its offerings.
- Try to limit the number of pages and focus instead on pages that matter most.
- Include the following: your menu, location, hours, and a way to contact you.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly, as people are often searching via mobile for restaurants near them.
Customize Your Header
To begin, click the “Edit” button in the upper left-hand corner to open the header editor. From there, hover over the header and click “Edit Site Header.” From there, you can change the layout of your header, change header styling, and add your site title or use your logo. To add your logo, click “Site Title & Logo” and then upload your logo. When you’re finished with editing your header, click “Done” in the upper left corner, and then click “Save” to return to the main editor.
Update, Add & Remove Pages
Once you are done editing your header, the next step is to add and remove pages. To do this, navigate to “Page” on the left-hand side. From there, you can select and edit existing pages by clicking on them or add new pages by clicking the “+” icon to the right of “Main Navigation.”
Here are some quick ways to edit pages in Squarespace:
- To remove a page: Hover over it and then click the trash can icon that appears to the left.
- To add a page: Click the “+” icon to the right of “Main Navigation” and select the type of page you want to add.
- To update the title of an existing page: Hover over the page title and click the gear icon that appears to the right. Under “General,” update the title under “Navigation Title.”
- To edit pages for search engine optimization (SEO): Hover over the page title and click the gear icon. Select “SEO” to see how your page appears in search engines (e.g., Google) and update the title and description as necessary.
- To edit page elements (text, images, icons, and buttons): Double click on the element you would like to update to open the editor.
- To add a section to a page: Double-click on the page you want to add the section to in order to open the page editor. Then navigate to where you want to add a section (or content block), hover over that area, and click the blue “+” that appears. Finally, select the type of element or content block you want to add.
- To re-order website navigation: You can change the order of how your pages appear in your site’s navigation by clicking on a page and moving it above or below other pages.
Pro tip: If you already have your menu designed, you can add it as an image. If you don’t have a menu designed, try Canva. There you can design one for free, which you can then download and upload to your site.
Add Restaurant Industry Integrations (e.g., OpenTable)
If your chosen template didn’t come with the reservations and online ordering tool built-in, and you want to accept reservations online, then click “Edit” and then double-click to open the blue “+” option. Click it to add a content block, and then find “Reservations” from the left-hand menu and select the reservation layout of your choice.
While OpenTable is a popular online ordering system, it’s not the most affordable and with so many alternatives, it may not be the best option for you. Learn more about the best online ordering systems.
Pro tip: You don’t have to be limited to OpenTable and ChowNow. You can use any restaurant ordering system you want by adding them via Squarespace’s custom code tool.
4. Register for a Plan & Get a Domain
Once you have finished designing your restaurant website, it’s time to register for a premium plan and connect a domain name. Squarespace, like most site builders, costs $12 per month, which enables your site to be live on the web and gives you the ability to connect your own domain. If you don’t already have a domain, you can get a free domain through your plan.
To register for a plan, make sure your site is saved and then click the blue “Subscribe” button at the bottom of the page. Next, review the plans and select the one that fits your needs. If you’re not selling online, then the $12 per month plan is most likely sufficient. However, the $18 per month plan includes the option to sell gift cards online, which can be a cool feature for restaurants.
Follow the prompts to complete the registration process, such as inputting your contact and payment information. After completing your purchase, you will be able to get your free domain name (which will automatically connect to your site) or connect a domain you already own following the steps provided by Squarespace.
5. Launch Your Restaurant Website
Squarespace sites are automatically set to private (default setting), so now that you’ve purchased a plan and connected your domain name, it’s time to make your site go public. To do this, navigate to your home menu and select “Settings.” Then find “Site Availability” and change it to “Public.”
Congratulations on your restaurant website!
Of course, that doesn’t mean the work is over. Now that you have designed your restaurant website, you’ll need to make sure it can be found online. To do so, here are a few post-launch tasks you should complete.
- Create a Google My Business account
- Submit your URL to Google
- Connect Google Analytics
- Use search engine optimization (SEO) to help your site get found on Google
- Create a Google My Business account to get found in local search results
- Add your website to your social media profiles
- Add your website to relevant online business directories (e.g., Yelp, TripAdvisor, and so forth)
Get the complete breakdown of how to get site traffic using these website marketing strategies.
Bonus: 10 Tips to Improve Your Restaurant Website
Even though site builders such as Squarespace make it very easy to design your website, there’s still always more you can do to improve it. For example, a large percentage of people search for restaurants via mobile, discover where to eat using Google, and look to your site to find information on what you offer.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly
- Include click-to-call and click-to-directions
- Don’t make visitors download your menu
- Include your drinks menu
- Keep your design clean and clutter-free
- Include your schedule of events
- Include an online reservation button (if you accept reservations)
- If you don’t accept reservations, make that known on your site (to avoid calls)
- Embed your reviews
There are a ton of ways to improve your restaurant website; read this article to learn more about how to improve your website’s user experience.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which is better: Squarespace or Wix?
Squarespace and Wix are two leading site builders that make it easy and affordable for just about anyone to build their own professional website. While Wix has a true drag-and-drop editor, which lends to more customization capabilities, its editor can be clunky and the design freedom can lead to inconsistent (and unprofessional) design. Squarespace, on the other hand, is top-rated for its quality templates and professional design. Get the full breakdown of Wix vs Squarespace.
How do I embed reviews on my restaurant website?
The answer to how to embed reviews on your site will depend on the platform you used to build your site (e.g., WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, and so on) and the platform you use to collect reviews (e.g., Google, Trustpilot, TripAdvisor, and so forth). If your site is built with WordPress, your best bet is to use a plugin. To find one, go to Plugins > Add new, and search for the reviews platform you’re using (e.g., Google Reviews). Learn more about how to embed Google reviews.
What is restaurant SEO?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of improving a site so that it gets found in search. There are many different ways to boost SEO, from content marketing (think blog posts) to link building (e.g., getting mentions on other websites). One thing restaurants can easily do to boost SEO is create a Google My Business account, which will enable Google to list your site in local search results.