Design Tips for a Fine Dining Restaurant Website
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A fine dining restaurant's website should reflect the same attributes people value in the restaurant itself. When they come in to eat, your customers expect seamless service, high quality, and class. If the look, feel, or functions of your restaurant's website clash with these principles of fine dining, negative associations carry over to the restaurant. Design your fine dining restaurant's website with the same care that goes into the design of a dish your restaurant serves.
Capture your restaurant's superior service on its website. Begin with one of the most important principles of website design: user-friendly navigation. Visitors expect your fine dining restaurant's website to conform to standards of structure and navigation. Your home page is much like your host or hostess. Make it immediately welcoming and present necessary information. Run the navigation menu bar near the top of web pages or down one of the sides. At the very least, provide links to menus and contact information.
Just as your staff goes above and beyond to please customers, design a website that does the same. Describe the day's specials in detail. Offer well-crafted explanations of menu items that appeal to the senses. Create a web page of information about your wines and wine pairings. Let patrons make reservations from the website via an automated system that tracks availability. Make sure someone monitors this system; as you know, there are few ways to alienate customers faster than by not honoring their reservations. Include confirmations of online reservations.
The appearance of your website should immediately demonstrate that you spare no expense, time, or attention to get things right. A website apparently thrown together cheaply and quickly damages a brand, especially a high-end one. It signals something done begrudgingly out of a sense of obligation, not something done to enhance the customer experience by people who care.
Don't upload pictures of your dining room or food from a cheap digital camera. Bring in a professional photographer. If presentation is important in-house, it's important on your restaurant's website. Use grammatically correct, properly spelled, concise copy written in an educated yet straightforward voice. If necessary, hire a writer. Such expenses are investments, not costs, as they will yield new business. Treat each design decision as if it were something that would be seen in your brick-and-mortar location.
If you can point out ways in which your restaurant's atmosphere, appearance, service, and food give it a tasteful style and elegance, you understand how design conveys class. The same is true if you can articulate reasons a fast food restaurant wouldn't be considered a class act. Whether or not potential patrons think your website has class influences whether they expect your restaurant to have it.
While "class" is somewhat of an intangible, difficult to define, you know it when you see it. Even more, though, you know a lack of it when you see it. The same traits that would seem offensive in a fine dining restaurant would be poor choices in its website's design. Loud colors, flashiness instead of substance, impractical fonts, busyness or confusion, sloppiness, cheapness, dubious quality, and endless other poor website design characteristics betray your brand. If you wouldn't be comfortable posting the pages of your website visibly in your restaurant, it doesn't have the necessary class.
Written by: Jon Mohrman