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Choosing the Right Platform for Your Restaurant's Website

August 22, 2020

Welcome to part 2 (of ?) in my series about your restaurant's web presence. If you haven't read part 1, it's a quick list of what should be on your site. Go get that list made up and gather your links and images in a google spreadsheet, that's easier than going back and forth with 25 browser tabs while you're trying to focus on building out your site.

This post will be all about choosing the platform that's right for you. There are a LOT of options to choose from and infinitely more opinions about each of them. Remember this tho, you should only be concerned about two things- your needs, and what meets those needs.

Disclaimer: I use Webflow for all my personal and client websites, it's my favorite. However, since I recognize that the point of this article is to get YOU online quickly, I'm not recommending it - you should use what best suits your need as a restaurant owner (I'm also assuming you're doing this your self).

Disclaimer 2: I don't get into the most simple (and the most expensive) option in this article which is just joining a service like grubhub, ubereats, doordash, caviar etc... I just can't recommend doing something like that in good conscience. At a time when margins are the most important thing in your life, why would you do that? (Rhetorical question... but really.)

A short glossary of a couple terms you'll see in my list below:

Domain - This is like your street address, think of your website as your house and your domain as the address. A lot of the time, depending on where you host (see below) your site, you can also purchase your domain from the same place (if that's an option, and you're trying to get online QUICKLY, go for that option)

Hosting - Hosting is just what it sounds like, your website is data, and it takes up space somewhere, depending where, usually you have to pay for someone to HOST that data somewhere.

Step 1: Assess your budget.

Figure on spending under $200 a month on monthly fees for your site. If you're spending more, you're doing something WRONG (send me a message). You'll be spending this on fees for a domain name, hosting (that's a big one), miscellaneous fees for things like plugins, and possibly a membership. If you're going bare-bones and don't have a budget at all, you can get away with  some free plans, however you'll be sacrificing some functionality. I recommend spending a little bit, spending SOMETHING on your site will help you commit to it.

Step 1b: Assess your needs.

Make a list of your must-haves and your wants. Do you HAVE to offer ordering online or can you get away with just having your customers call their order in?

(again, I already did that for you if you just want to follow along)

Step 2: Pick a platform based on step 1

Remember this, there is no "press a button now I have a website" option. You're here because your budget is small and your need is great, you're going to have to put a little effort into becoming at least somewhat familiar with the platform you choose. I'm here to hopefully save you some time and headache.

Websites

Wordpress:

This is what a large portion of the internet is built on, its popular, open source and clunky as hell. If you haven't used it before and aren't well versed, just move right along (no matter what your developer friends and family tell you). You have a goal here and that's to get online QUICKLY. It's not uncommon for wordpress sites to suddenly break at random because you forgot to update a plugin or some such nonsense. You don't need that headache. Especially when there are more convenient options.

Use this if: you've used it before (you're already familiar with it) and you have long term plans of hiring a team that will eventually build you out a custom site. If you haven't used it before and you still want to give wordpress a shot (bless you) it might be in your best interest to use a platform like envato to grab a "theme" from. Also, look up some youtube videos before diving in, you'll want to be familiar with how to navigate the platform before just diving in (it's not intuitive).

Squarespace:

We're talking about getting online quickly right? t's easy to pop the info you have collected into one of their templates, pay for what you need from them and publish your site! The downside? It's not that easy to customize the look and feel of your site. But hey, if your goal was a totally custom site, you wouldn't be here right now. Eyes on the prize here, and that's getting online quickly. Maybe you'll have time to worry about a totally custom site later.

Squarespace will also integrate with Chownow for online ordering. So that's convenient.

Use this if: You're looking for a simple and quick way to get online.

Wix:

Very similar to Squarespace. In fact... I mean.... they're pretty much the same tbh, pick your favorite and go for it, I say. Wix DOES have this new thing called "editor X" if you want to spend some time customizing your site. I haven't used it personally, but I hear it's pretty good. Check out their templates. They can handle your online ordering as well.

Use this if: You're looking for a simple and quick way to get online and you'd like to keep everything (online ordering and your website) all in one place.

Godaddy builder

Here's an option that doesn't get a whole lot of love and it's definitely worth checking out.

Their templates are surprisingly easy to customize,in fact, if you bought your domain on Godaddy and already have an account there I say totally go for it. If you're looking for an online ordering system for a Godaddy site I'd recommend setting up an account with a platform like UpMenu or Toasttab. Just pop a button into their template and link out of your website to he online ordering system you use. (GoDaddy does have an online store option, however, not ideal for food service IMO)

Use this if: You're looking for a simple and quick way to get online and don't mind sacrificing some features and possibly some aesthetics in pursuit of getting online quickly.

Tools you might need

Free stock photos that look good: Unsplash

Free photo editing tool for making sure your images are up to par: Canva

Well, there you have a quick overview. I hope this helped. Like I said before, there are nearly an infinite amount of options, this is by no means an exhaustive list, just a list of some of the more popular options.

Choose what works best for you.

Have a suggestion for a topic? Reach out to me either via email or instagram.

Hey, I'm Jeff

I help ambitious restaurant groups craft and grow powerful brands using creative strategies and meaningful design.

Pt 1: Brand Strategy and Positioning

READ
Brand

Choosing the Right Platform for Your Restaurant's Website

READ
Getting Online

What Should Be On Your Restaurant's Website? A Checklist

READ
Getting Online

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