Kevin Amulega : Senior Web Developer and Online Marketing Consultant
We take a bottom-line approach to each project. Our clients consistently see increased traffic, enhanced brand loyalty and new leads thanks to our work.
Designing around food can be tricky. Think about it: Taking a photo of food is difficult. How can you explain the aroma of a great meal digitally?
But there are plenty of things you can do when designing a website for a restaurant. The idea is to create a fully usable website that makes people hungry and tells visitors everything they need to know before arrival. Here are 10 tips (and some examples of nice sites) to help you make the most of a restaurant website design project.
Tip 1. Start with Great Photos
This might be the easiest thing to say and toughest thing to do. Taking food photography is tough. Hire a professional.
The difference between food that looks beautiful and appetizing and food that is poorly lit and photographs poorly can make or break your design. (It can also drive people away from a restaurant instead of to it.) Use light- or bright- colored dishware and show meals that have good color. Lighting is key. Every image should be bright and appealing. Simple photos of small quantities of food can work better than huge plates. Vegetables often look more appealing than meats and add plenty of garnishes for color.
Also use imagery that showcases your atmosphere. Images of the inside or outside of the restaurant or people enjoying food are great options.
User experience works best when it’s incorporated into every stage of product development, starting from idea to development and testing. But usually things don’t happen that way and user experience specialists have to face the challenge of optimizing the existing product to become what we call “user friendly.” Well, better late than never. UX optimization of an established website also has its pros and cons. You have more actual user data and statistics to build the user research on, but on the other hand there will certainly be some resistance to change, especially when you get to “kill their darlings.”
As a user experience specialist you are free to choose the method of research and even go beyond traditional tools, but today I’d like to go back to the basics and talk about heuristic evaluation.
What is Heuristic Evaluation?
“Heuristic evaluation involves having a small set of evaluators examine the interface and judge its compliance with recognized usability principles (the “heuristics”).” — Jakob Nielsen
In other words, heuristic evaluation is a process where evaluators, aka user experience specialists, go through the interface of a website, perform various tasks in order to identify usability issues that need to be fixed for a smoother user experience.
Creating websites is getting more and more complex and is usually not a one person job. It is important to ensure that design is consistent and optimized to meet business objectives and create enjoyable experiences for users.
One of the ways to ensure that team is on the same page when designing separate parts of the website or saving designs from developers is to create design documentation or a web design style guide.
It is beneficial to have a style guide in order to create a cohesive experience among different pages. Also it helps to ensure that future development or third-party production will follow brand guidelines and will be perceived as part of the overall brand.
Luke Clum has touched the surface of using style guides as your first step in web design last year and I would like to take a more in-depth look on how to create a usable web design style guide for your projects.
What is a Style Guide?
A style guide is a collection of pre-designed elements, graphics and rules designers or developers should follow to ensure that separate website pieces will be consistent and will create a cohesive experience at the end.
There’s a first time for everything — and it’s finally time for your very first web design project! While landing your first gig is a huge accomplishment in itself, keeping your first client happy requires a whole different set of skills. You’re not just a designer — you’re a project manager, and offering a great customer service experience is essential for winning over your clients’ repeat business, so you’ll need to be on target from day one.
But where should you begin? You may not have learned so much project management in school, so we’d like to offer up a few tips. The infographic below outlines every stage of the web design process from start to finish. The first step of a web design project is learning what your client wants: her overall objectives, the purpose of the website, her audience, the features she requires. Remember, this is her project, not yours. You’re here to bring her vision to life — and hopefully, to offer some creative insights that will make the website even better than she imagined.
You’ll need to know your client’s goals up front, because that’s how you’ll determine budget. Next, outline budget and timeline in a written agreement. This agreement holds your client to her side of the contract, but holds you accountable, too.
So you’ve set expectations up front — great! Now you need to do a little research. Part of your job is determining the best possible user experience for the site, and that usually means creating user personas to determine how to meet the needs of target users. Every great website serves a purpose and facilitates that purpose to the greatest degree possible, so that’s what you’ll want to deliver! At least, we think you do.
The wireframe that results from all this research and planning helps to make your plans clear to your client. Managing your client’s wireframe feedback can be challenging, but here’s a rule of thumb: if she makes a suggestion that you think will hurt the aesthetic or functionality of the site, push back in a polite and professional manner — after all, the client isn’t just paying for your skills, she’s paying for your training and expertise. But in the end, this is her website, not yours. Balance your professional opinions with the demands of your client and you’ll make it through this stage unscathed.
Now it’s time for the coding — your favorite part! But once all the coding is done, don’t forget to run diagnostics and check for browser compatibility. Turning in an untested site is one sure way to look unprofessional in your client’s eyes.
When you were in school, you probably thought the coding would be the hardest part of your future profession, but managing a project can be just as challenging. Luckily, keeping your clients happy can also be the greatest reward of a site well-built.