Gone are the days when having a web presence was something only for large pizza chains with huge marketing and technology budgets. In today’s business environment, having a website is a must for any pizza restaurant business, no matter how large or small. In fact, not having a web presence is like having a restaurant in a busy shopping and dining district, yet always having the “closed” sign displayed and the doors locked. So while people may have heard about your restaurant, many people review your menu, get your phone number for reservations and take out orders or get directions to your location through your website. It’s your electronic storefront and consumers frequently will make decisions about coming to your restaurant based on your website.
Even if you currently have a website for your pizza restaurant, have you analyzed it lately? Have you looked at it from today’s perspective of web design? Have you thought about your website from the perspective of your current customers or clients? For many pizza restaurants, the answer is “no.” That is, they may have created a website several years ago, but they have made little to no changes to it since then and it needs to be updated.
In order for your website to be a true asset to your restaurant, you need to follow some website development guidelines. Following are the top 7 tips to building a dynamic and profitable web presence for your business.
          1. Whether you’re designing a site from scratch or revising an existing site, whoever is going to design your site must first have a thorough understanding of the pizza business your website is going to promote or sell. A good starting point is to research your competition and see what their sites look like. What about their sites do you like and dislike? While you don’t want to totally copy your competitor’s website, you can get pointers of what works and what doesn’t work based on their design. 
          2. Make sure your website is visually appealing for the target customer you have in mind and that the food shots are appetizing. Realize that unless you’re targeting a very young demographic, cool graphics and flash animation typically turn off a lot of customers. Also, avoid having too much clutter. Doing so can overwhelm or confuse people. However, you don’t want too much empty space either. That may make you appear as if you don’t have anything meaningful to say or you don’t want to display your food offerings online. It’s a fine balancing act, but one worth mastering.
          3. Give your website a consistent look throughout. If your home page is red and has a navigation bar across the top, then every other page must match that style. Designing every page differently confuses people. As they click from page to page, they may think they left your site. Other ways to ensure a consistent look include using the same font, graphic elements, color scheme, and layout.
          4. Design your site so it’s easy to read. If you’re targeting seniors, make the font larger than if you were targeting teenagers. Use bullet points and lots of short paragraphs to break up the text. Additionally, keep the length of the text in your main message to one screen shot. Having a page that rambles on forever makes your site appear complicated. Keep your messages short and easy to understand.
          5. Remember that usability is just as important than aesthetics. If a website looks beautiful and appetizing, but doesn’t influence prospects to become customers, then it’s not an effective website. Blend your message and the technology used to deliver it seamlessly. Your site needs to engage the target consumers so they can interact with the site almost effortlessly. When that occurs, consumers will have a better feeling about your restaurant, which will lead to more store traffic and sales.
          6. One of your site’s main goals needs to be converting prospect into customers. To make that happen, you need to give visitors to your site a satisfying experience. So while you want your site to be entertaining, you don’t want people to be too distracted from the goal of learning more about your restaurant, getting them to visit your location or considering eating there in the future.
          7. Be sure to work with a web designer who can analyze your site’s performance and results. Remember, your website should not be a static type of marketing tool. You need to constantly review and update it so you can improve it over time. The most successful marketers frequently update their site and make it more usable.
Website Rewards

          While website design can be a complicated topic, it does follow some basic rules that any pizza restaurant or chain master. So if you’ve had your existing website for a long time, now is the perfect time to analyze it and make changes as appropriate. And if you’re creating a new website from the ground up, keep these 7 guidelines in mind so you minimize your learning curve. Taking the time to analyze and plan your website effectively will enable you to experience greater results and higher profits for your restaurant in the future.

About the Author
Peter is Founder and President of Koeppel Direct, a leader in direct response media buying, marketing, campaign management and creative strategies. Koeppel Direct specializes in utilizing an integrated media buying strategy including online, radio and print, in addition to television. With over 25 years of marketing and advertising experience, Peter has helped Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs develop marketing campaigns to increase profits. Peter is a Wharton MBA and has improved the media buying strategies and advertising for clients such as H.J. Heinz, DIRECTV, Columbia House, The Hair Club for Men, Ben  Hogan Golf, and Scholastic.

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