Web Design

Questions Restaurant Websites Must Answer within 15 Seconds

Learn 7 questions potential customers expect to be answered on restaurant websites within 15 seconds.

Close-up of a bow-tie pasta dish.

According to data from Tony Haile, the CEO of Chartbeat, 55% of website visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a page.

A well-designed logo, along with great fonts, colors and photography will surely make a positive first impression, but that might only increase the time on site by mere seconds. Aesthetics aren't enough to convert visitors into customers.

You must speak directly to your target market, present your offer and answer their questions — immediately. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

In this post, I’m going to share 7 questions restaurant websites must answer within 15 seconds.

1. What do You Serve?

Outback Steakhouse's website, showing they're serving steak and lobster.

Without reading or scanning a word, potential customers should be able to immediately identify the type of food that you serve.

Outback Steakhouse uses an image carousel of their specials to show what they're serving (see image). Large, banner images with great photography that shows specials, menu items or your signature dish are all excellent ways to answer the question, "What do you serve?"

Action Step
Use high-quality photos on your homepage and entryway pages that indicate the type of food your restaurant serves. To learn about using video, read How to Plan, Shoot, Edit and Embed Video on Your Website.

2. Why Should Potential Customers Care?

Ray's Restaurant's website, showing their value proposition.

Make your restaurant attractive to potential customers with a value proposition in the hero section (i.e. the top of the homepage). A value proposition isn't a tag line or slogan, but a promise of value to be delivered that illustrates why potential customers should choose your restaurant.

With Ray's Restaurants, all it takes are three adjectives and three nouns for users to understand what makes their restaurants attractive – "Fresh Seafood. Prime Steaks. Fine Wines (see image)."

Action Step
Invest time in crafting a well-written value proposition for your homepage and entryway pages. Use A/B tests or pay per click advertising to test different value propositions.

3. How Much?

Atlanta Breakfast Club's menu.

Most restaurants don't list prices on the homepage, but it should be listed on the menu page. Refusing to list prices on your website can lead to unnecessary phone calls or lost revenue.

Atlanta Breakfast Club uses a one-page website with links in the navigation bar to jump to each section of the page. One of those sections is the menu where they list specialties, brief descriptions and prices. While this works very well, I wish they'd list the full menu on another page. Having to download a menu is an annoyance. PDFs also can't be indexed by search engines.

Action Step
If your menu and pricing are hidden behind a "Download Menu" button, consider adding the full menu to a web page. This way, it can be indexed by search engines and you can even link to the menu on your Google My Business page and other business directories.

4. Where's the Restaurant Located?

Chipotle "Find a Restaurant" page.

Obviously, all restaurant websites list their address, but not many websites include a map. Adding maps to your website can provide additional visual context. Instead of a potential customer having to copy and paste your address into Google or Apple Maps, they can just click on the map to get driving directions from their location.

Chipotle uses a "Find a Chipotle" call to action on their homepage for potential customers to enter their "City, State or ZIP Code (see image)." Clicking this button opens a new page that lists nearby locations on a map. This feature works very well for restaurants with multiple locations.

Action Step
In addition to listing your address, add a map or searchable map database like Sweet Tomatoes. To learn about Google Maps and other Google products, read 27 Google Products for Opening and Running a Business.

5. What are the Hours of Operation?

Zingerman's Roadhouse's hours of operation.

I'm always surprised at the number of websites that fail to list their hours of operation or the ones that make you go to Google Maps or Yelp to get that information. As a general rule, your restaurant's hours should be listed on the homepage or in the footer.

Zingerman's Roadhouse provides regular operating hours, holiday hours, roadshow drive-up and to-go hours as well as roadshow holiday hours (see image). Rarely, do I see restaurants post holiday hours when we're not in the holiday season. Well done!

Action Step
Inform potential customers the days of the week and times that your restaurant opens and closes. Is your restaurant open for lunch? Do you close between lunch and dinner? State it clearly on the homepage or in the footer.

6. Do People Like the Restaurant?

Sparks Steakhouse's website, showing social proof.

Potential customers want to see social proof like awards, statistics and reviews that show people love your restaurant. Social proof validates decisions.

Sparks Steakhouse shows their customers love their restaurant by highlighting customer reviews and linking to several popular review sites. The more social proof you can display, the more trust and credibility you'll earn. However, ensure reviews state where they originated (e.g. Facebook), use first names (e.g. Tony B.) and avoid having customers leave your website to read reviews. Keep them on your website with a collection of the best reviews.

Action Step
Ask customers to rate and review your business on relevant and authoritative sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, etc. Then, add that social proof on your website. To learn more, read 17 Ways to Build Trust with Your Website.

7. What Should Potential Customers do?

Zoës Kitchen's website, showing their call to action buttons.

Inform potential customers what you want them to do on your website. "Make a Reservation" and "Order Online" are two of the most common calls to action (CTAs) on restaurant websites.

Zoës Kitchen uses a green button in the navigation bar that tells users to "Order Now." While this CTA informs users what they should do, Zoës Kitchen could use a different button color for "Explore Fresh Flavors" since this secondary CTA is used for supplemental information. The importance of that button should be de-emphasized.

Action Step
Use calls to action that informs users what to do on your website. For help, read How to Create an Effective Call to Action Button on Your Website.

Wrap Up

You just learned 7 questions restaurant websites must answer within 15 seconds. As attention spans dwindle and the number of direct competitors increases every day — getting your restaurant website right is paramount. Ensure your website addresses the questions outlined in this post.

Questions Restaurant Websites Must Answer within 15 Seconds first appeared on the Bento Sites Blog by Jeff Shibasaki.

Close-up of Jeff Shibasaki.

Jeff Shibasaki

I’m an Atlanta web designer that specializes in website design and development on Webflow and Squarespace.

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