Sometimes people think there’s not much point in a website for a cafe.
A lot of business is from people walking past or from word of mouth. And maybe you already have a Facebook page and an Instagram and think that’s enough of an online presence. (And if you don’t have any of that… we need to talk! But that’s another post.)
It’s true people usually aren’t looking to read blogs or content from the coffee shop down the road. They just want their morning coffee, or yummy cake, or a quick bite for lunch.
But there are a few important things to consider that just might show you that adding a website to your online presence, even for simple coffee shops or local cafes, makes a lot of sense. And cents. And dollars too.
It’s the one piece of online ‘real estate’ you have complete control over.
I’ve seen lots of cafes with Facebook pages only. And a Facebook page is a good idea – people can ‘check in’, tag you in pictures, like your page and see updates. It can be great for engagement. But a Facebook page is not a website. The focus for Facebook is Facebook, and their branding is in focus – there are a lot of distractions and notifications for other things to take people away. You don’t have total control over what is showing up there. (And a pet peeve of mine is how hard it is to find the cafe menu on a Facebook page.) Not to mention, while someone is on your page, Facebook is quite possibly advertising other cafes in the area in the side bar!
A website on the other hand, has you and only you there. When people go to your website, you can capture their attention, convey the feel and style of your cafe immediately, show where you are, what’s on your menu — all the things people want to know at a glance.
It’s your best advertisement.
Like I mentioned above, you aren’t competing with anyone else on your website. Not like on social media or review sites. Those online places are important. But think of your website like a permanent advertisement for your cafe where you get to choose how the message is conveyed.
Your website is an extension of the atmosphere and style of your cafe, your brand – people should be able to get a feel for what you’re all about as soon as they open the page. Even if they look at nothing else, if your website *feels* like the kind of cafe they’re looking for, you’ve probably got them already. At the very least, they’ll want to look at your menu.
Which leads me to…
Your menu is easy to find & update.
My pet peeve when I’m looking for somewhere to eat is when I can’t easily find a menu. And I don’t think I’m alone. I want to know what the cafe offers before I know if I’m going to want to eat there. Especially for dietary requirements, which are extremely common.
And even if someone has been to the cafe before and knows they like the food there, it’s common for people to pick out exactly what they’re going to order before they even get to the cafe.
It’s frustrating to have to hunt through Facebook pictures hoping there’s one of the menu somewhere. And extra disappointing when you think you’ve found it, only to get to the cafe and realise it was an old one and the thing you wanted to eat isn’t even there anymore!
Having a menu on your website makes this easy. You can update it as soon as your menu changes, and people can find it without hunting.
This is important because…
People like easy decisions.
Let’s face it, none of us really likes decisions at all. Especially when we’re hungry! If people have to hunt for info, you’ve probably lost them before they even get close to your door.
They’re going to bypass you for the easier decision.
So having a website makes it as easy as possible for people to choose to go to you. If they come across your cafe somewhere online and see you have a website, they’ll click that first. That puts you ahead of those that don’t, right away.
And if they can easily see where you are, your vibe, when you’re open, and what’s on your menu — half of their decision is already made for them. People are much more likely to visit you if you make it easy for them!
People prefer things that are familiar.
It’s a psychological phenomena, where people will like something or someone more just because of familiarity. This is one of the most fundamental reasons advertising works.
This doesn’t mean you’re pushy about it. It just means you know you’ve got a cafe people could love, and you want them to feel confident about coming, like they know they’re going to feel at home. One of the best ways to get people to feel your cafe is familiar, before they’ve even been there, is with a website the reflects it in feel & style. While Facebook and Instagram are great for this too, it is because of the control over the total look of your website that your website is the most complete picture.
Of course, getting customers to come to your cafe, tell their friends and keep coming back is about more than just the website. Your food, your atmosphere and your service will do this. And then having ways for people to keep connected with you — like an active Facebook page or an attractive Instagram feed — keeps you fresh in people’s minds.
But your online presence is made so much stronger by having a website.
Especially for appearing professional & attracting new customers. Letting people know who you are & what you’re about in a clear, distraction free format is vital. And it ties everything else together — directing people to your social media, reviews, any events you’re connected with, letting them know how to book for groups or functions, even getting them on a mailing list — there are so many things a good website can do.
And it doesn’t have to a giant thing. It doesn’t need a blog. It doesn’t even need to be something that gets updated that often – other than your menu, if that changes.
In fact, for a cafe, the simpler the better. Convey everything at a glance, and you’ve got people halfway through the door already.
We can streamline that process for you, if you’d like to team up with us to create a website that really reflects you & your cafe. (Or update your current website to do this better.) See our Services.
Or if you’d like to do it yourself, we are going to be putting together more resources soon on how to do this, what your website needs, and how to brand your whole online presence — for that familiarity factor again. Stay tuned.
We love small businesses, local cafes & passionate people, and we want to see you succeed. So also let us know, in the comments or by contacting us, what it is you most need help with when it comes to online presence, website design & branding for your cafe or business.