WordPress has grown from a fringe blogging engine to a full-featured content management system that powers 18.9% of the entire web! Given the popularity of WordPress, it's not surprising that many restaurants around the world - including Chez Panisse, Gotham Bar & Grill, and many others - have decided to use WordPress to power their restaurant website.
A WordPress-powered restaurant website is limited only by one's imagination. In the hands of a capable developer, WordPress can handle any design, securely manage ecommerce such as merchandise or gift cards, is search engine optimized, can display perfectly on mobile devices, and is social media friendly.
Beyond all of its core functionality, one of the most compelling reasons we believe WordPress is a restaurant’s best option for website development is its ease of use. If your site is powered by WordPress, you won’t need elite level coding skills to make changes to the content. When built properly, adding a new menu item, changing pricing, or posting a tasting event or news coverage for your diners is as easy as writing an email. Most updates to your site can be handled by non-technical staff in minutes from the restaurant floor.
With more than 50 WordPress websites designed and developed for a wide range of clients and after running dozens of training sessions, Angelsmith believes that it is one of the best choices for restaurants.
There are many free themes and plugins for WordPress that could theoretically allow restauranteurs to create their own websites. But we've found that in most situations, the needs of most restaurants require the skills of an experienced WordPress developer to create the initial design and custom functionality which results in a bug-free, easy-to-use restaurant website. However, once this initial build is finished, the completed site is entirely in your control, saving your restaurant from expensive updates.
These are the 12 top reasons why WordPress is a restaurant website’s best friend:
1. Chimp Simple
WordPress allows you to manage your static pages (“About”, “Menus”, etc.) as well as your frequently-changing areas (“Events”). This means that you will be able to post press releases, announcements, or events quickly but you will just as easily be able to make updates to your regular pages like menus or directions. What's even better is that the interface for making these adjustments is very straightforward, offering a simple editing window where you can just click and type text. Formatting is equally easy, with straightforward buttons for handling things like "bold", paragraph alignment, and more. Basically, if you can format your own email, you can use WordPress.
WordPress is so easy to use just about any internal staff member with opposable thumbs will be able to update the site in minutes.
2. Fast Web Changes, Saves Money
Sites that are not powered by a CMS require the skills of a developer to update. That means when you wanted a change, you need to contact your web developer, request the change from them, and wait for them to fit it into his or her schedule. When you use WordPress, that waiting time is eliminated. Simply log into the admin area and make edits yourself. Most updates can be quickly done by the hostess at the front desk and can be published immediately with the click of one button.
3. Maps & Directions
One of the top items diners are looking for on your website are maps and directions to your website. Building on a WordPress platform, Google and other map services are a snap to build into the site. There are many free and paid plugins which will handle location maps for you.
4. Social Media Integration
Social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube integrate easily into a restaurant’s WordPress website. Again, there are numerous free plugins which automatically add share buttons and more to your website. If you have your own Facebook page (and if you don't, you should!), WordPress can automatically post updates and announcements from your website to your Facebook page with a single click. Same goes for Twitter. This means less redundant work on your end, more traffic, and more customers.
5. Reservation Integration
Integrating most restaurant’s reservation systems including OpenTable into a WordPress site is easy. In most cases, adding OpenTable to your site is as easy as filling out their form, copying the code they give you, and pasting it into WordPress.
6. Mobile Ready
One of the functionalities that diners expect is the ability to check out your restaurant from their mobile device. This is fast becoming an extremely important feature for restaurant websites -- many restaurants are beginning to report that the majority of their site visitors are using mobile phones to view the website.
Since WordPress sites are simple HTML, they are already able to be viewed completely by mobile phones. There are a number of free mobile plugins for WordPress that can automatically take your WordPress site and convert it into a mobile-optimized experience. And of course, any quality developer who is building your WordPress site in the first place should be able to create a site which automatically adjusts itself to mobile visitors and gives them a "wow" experience.
7. Scalable Functionality
The basic functionality of WordPress is great. But there is a massive user and ever-expanding library of plug-ins and modifications that allow you to do pretty much anything you'd like with your restaurant website. Want to upload videos? Do you have multiple restaurant locations and want to offer a "nearest restaurant" finder? Want to have a detailed event calendar? All this functionality can be easily added to any WordPress site using readily-available plugins.
According to our research data, diners want menus that are both downloadable and viewable on the site. With WordPress, there are no limitations -- you can type in the menu and then plugins can make it downloadable as a PDF. Even better, all the menu items can be edited using WordPress. This gives restaurants the ability to quickly change out menu items, allowing you to change your menu seasonally, weekly, or daily. Literally, if you ran out of something during dinner rush, you could get it off the menu faster than you can get drinks to a table.
9. Supported Worldwide
WordPress is arguably the most widespread content management software in the world. Last year alone, it was downloaded over 46 million times. It now powers 18.9% of the entire web, which is a mind-boggling statistic.
What does this mean for you? It means there are TONS of developers who can build WordPress sites for you. It means there are tens of thousands of plugins available for WordPress. Thousands of support sites, blogs, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, Q&A sites, and more which means you can find an answer to pretty much any question anytime. No other content management system in the world can offer the same popularity and community support.
10. Universal Language
Built on the PHP programming language, WordPress is non-proprietary (unlike .ASP) and as a result is free, widely used, and has excellent documentation and support. The end-result is that even if you need to have a developer make changes to the core of your site, modifications are usually easier and less expensive to make than on other platforms.
11. Search Engine Optimized
WordPress is very search-engine-friendly right out of the gate. It will automatically format page titles, page names, links, the content on the page, and so on for maximized search engine optimization. Plus, additional plugins can further improve the SEO capabilities of WordPress. This ease of search engine optimization is the main reason why most online marketers use WordPress to power their websites.
12. Expandable / Changeable
A good WordPress developer will ensure that your site is easy to expand in house. This means that if you add new pages to your restaurant’s website or remove old ones, this won’t necessitate a redesign of your site or the buttons on it (along with the associated development time and costs); such changes can be implemented quickly without any outside help.
WordPress is even flexible enough to allow you to completely change the look and feel of the site without having to scrap everything and start over. If you want a totally new look and feel, you can simply change the WordPress theme -- your menus, locations, etc. will still be stored in the system, only they will now be displayed in the new look.
WordPress is a fantastic tool, but there are some things you need to be aware of when building the site. First, although WordPress can be built by yourself, without help from developers, the results are usually less than stunning. You're much better off working with a quality developer who can ensure you've got a great-looking, well-built WordPress website. If you want to build your restaurant website yourself, check out Squarespace - they do about as good a job as possible with do-it-yourself websites.
Secondly, not all developers are equal. Be sure to do your due diligence when you evaluate vendors: look at other sites they've done, talk to their references, and be sure you've got a good gut feel from them. Too many ambitious freelancers build one personal WordPress site and, because it's so easy, think they're experts. They're not, and you're much better off working with someone who knows WordPress both inside and out.
Developing your restaurant’s website on WordPress will give you the freedom to design anything you want at just about any budget you may have. When done right, creating specials, running promotions, updating photos, staffing, news and more are completely in your control.