Building a great website: Pizza on fire

Tom Stankiewicz
September 27, 2017
By Tom Stankiewicz
Your pizzeria’s website creates an instant picture that tells the story of your business. Or at least it ought to. If you take advantage of the Internet’s power to reach a pile of people in a matter of seconds, then you are one step closer to having a very successful pizzeria business. Business owners I know in various fields all have websites. I don’t think the question anymore is “Do you have a website?” Rather it’s, “What’s your URL?” Clients view websites as a basic requirement for any business.

Your website should capture the essence of your business. It should highlight why you’re the best at what you do. Your pizzeria’s website is a powerful advertising tool. From personal experience, I’d estimate that eight out of 10 customers visit my site before calling and placing an order. This fact alone makes it very important to have a strategically designed site to ensure that those who visit find what they need. Today, people are used to getting information fast. Visitors to your site will not be impressed if they have to spend 10 minutes locating your menu.

So, knowing the power your website has, how do you start building one that brings out all the positives about your business? How do you make sure that your website tells a winning story?

My first piece of advice is to hire someone with extensive experience in website creation. It definitely looks easy, but if you have never done it before, believe me, it actually requires someone who knows exactly what he or she is doing. However, when I designed my site I found that the most difficult step in the process was explaining to someone how you would like things to look like once the finished product is ready to go live. Start by having a clear vision of your website. It takes patience and great communication skills to describe what you created in your mind and have someone transfer it to reality, but it can be done.

Get ready to make decisions and give a lot of creative input during this process. After all, it is your website representing your business. When I was designing the website for my pizzeria, I found that not even the smallest of details – and there are many – could be overlooked.

Many businesses use pictures of events or people to personalize their site. It could be challenging to incorporate them into your web pages if you don’t have that experience. You have so many options: do you want them on an angle, do you want them to rotate or stay in one place, or do you want them to be in a slide show? You will find there is a lot to consider once you start working with a designer.

You will also find that many websites have hyperlinks to other sites for additional information. These allow your clients to learn more about your business by reviewing another site. It makes sense to attach links that show what you have been involved in, for example, pizzeria contests or articles about your store. You could also link to sites where your store has been reviewed.

There are endless possibilities when deciding where to place your pizza menu. Do what you think works best for you. You can have it at the top, left, right or centre of the page. The rule is to make sure it is visible and easily found by customers. If you get a caller telling you that he would like to place an order but he can’t find the pizza menu on your website, then it needs to be redesigned. Some websites choose to have just one link to their entire menu. I decided to go the opposite way, and split the links to take clients directly to pizzas, sides or specials.

Another important part of the whole design is a section about customer comments and contact information. You need to ensure that they have an option to write comments about your pizzas, customer experience, website features, etc. Make sure your contact information, including physical address, is on the home page so search engines will find it. This will allow you to change what is not working, but also to build on things that your customers already love. For example, if you get great positive feedback about your pizza specials, then you know not much needs to be changed about them.

In many cases, your website will create the first, and usually the most important, impression on any new customer. When you consider that technology keeps moving forward, having a well-designed website makes a perfect sense. It will help you reach a growing group of people who rely on the Internet more than any other generation before, particularly when it comes to deciding where to eat.

Tom Stankiewicz has been in the pizza business for more than 15 years. He has been the proprietor of Bondi’s Pizza in London, Ont., since 2000 and is president of the Canadian Pizza Team.

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