Restaurants have traditionally had a bad rap when it comes to web design, from the needlessly extravagant and egotistical to the unusable and uninformative, many restaurant websites lack focus and serve no one well. These website builders aim to change this by helping restaurants design better websites with easy drag & drop interfaces and pre-built templates, you won’t find un-skippable flash intros and autoplay music here.
We’ve selected the top 6 website builders for restaurants, all of which are built with modern web standards rather than flash, include mobile sites or responsive design and importantly, are easy to use even with no prior knowledge of web design. Different tools have different strengths and choosing the right tool for your restaurant will depend on what you’d like to achieve from your website; extensive functionality and integrations, perfect design or simplicity and ease of use.
One of the more simplistic builders, Weebly has a basic feature set and a simple widget based interface. The lack of complexity and inability to customise design beyond the prebuilt templates does make it one of the easiest to use and quickest to get a site up.
Weebly has a number of themes, with a few built for restaurants in mind, and although they don’t resize to fit on mobiles (responsive) Weebly does include create complementary mobile sites. A great solution for simple websites, although no room for extra functionality, restaurant specific or otherwise.
Pricing from $4 – $20 per month. Visit Weebly
In contrast, Squarespace is one of the most full featured, customisable website builders and is as close to a fully custom site you’ll get using an online tool. Squarespace follows the trend of an intuitive drag and drop interface, with a range of content blocks, but also opens up the code behind it allowing you to make minor changes to CSS & HTML code it if you’d like to.
Squarespace’s content blocks include a few restaurant specific options, including reservations (powered by OpenTable) and menus (indexable by Google). Built in marketing tools make it easy to capture emails, promote on social media and well formatted code help your SEO endeavours.
Squarespace has some of the best designed themes/templates in this space, often with a focus on imagery, large type and gratuitous white space. With 8 themes built specifically for restaurants, you should be able to find something to your taste.
Pricing from $8 – $24 per month. Visit Squarespace
WordPress comes in two flavours and is often misunderstood because of this. WordPress.com is a hosted (you don’t need to worry about servers), DIY site builder like the others discussed in this article. WordPress.org is the open source version of the same software that you can download and modify comprehensively. The self-hosted version of WordPress is far more flexible but requires a much larger time investment, WordPress.com is as simple as Squarespace to get setup.
WordPress has over 300 themes available and although many are aimed more at blogging, you should be able to find a suitable match for your brand. Blogging is of course WordPress’ main strength and you should consider this if you plan to blog regularly. The WordPress.com service does lack any significant additional functionality you may require, e.g. online ordering, and if you’re familiar with the self hosted version you may be disappointed with the lack of flexibility.
£70 – £210 per year Visit WordPress
Restaurant Engine, as it’s name would suggest, is focused entirely on websites for restaurants – a good start if nothing else. Built on top of the open source version of WordPress Restaurant Engine is more flexible in terms of features, with plugins for email marketing, traffic analytics, reviews, online ordering (integrated with Revel) and more.
Restaurant Engine has 6 individual themes to choose from and offer an optional professional setup for $199 that includes custom design work. A good choice to get up and running quickly with integrated features and services that add considerable value, some of the designs could use updating however.
Pricing $49 per month + Optional Extras Visit Restaurant Engine
HappyTables is another WordPress-backed option focused solely on Restaurants. Happy Tables have made it as easy as possible to get started, simply enter your restaurant’s name and they’ll pull relevant information from the web including pre-populated menus, google maps and social profiles. The editing interface is well thought out and integration with other systems like OpenTable, online ordering and others is plug and play.
Happy Tables offers 6 different layouts with a number of colour schemes to go with them. The design and customisation options are a little lacking and you may struggle to properly portray your brand, but mobile compatibility is very thorough and adding content and integrations couldn’t be easier.
Pricing $39 per month Visit Happy Tables
These are all good options and the platform you choose will depend on what you want your restaurant’s website to do for your business, from simple sites with contact details and opening hours to reservations and POS integration different platforms will be more suited to different objectives.
Ultimately though, these DIY builders can only offer so much in the way of customisation and functionality. You may be better off hiring a web designer from the start – get in touch with us to talk about your restaurant’s technology options.