Why your slow website is hurting your restaurant

A 4 minute read, posted on 18th May 2022.

Why your slow website is hurting your restaurant

Welcome to the first in a series of articles in which we'll outline the problems that frequently affect restaurant websites. We'll explain why they're an issue for your business, and we'll show you how you can take steps to address them.

In this article, we're starting with possibly the most significant issue affecting restaurant websites — speed. Or rather, the lack of it. We'll show you why a slow website is harming your business's reputation and hindering your success.

My website takes a few seconds to load; what's the big deal?

To answer this question, we need to take a brief look back to the early days of the modern internet — the late nineties. It was a dark time when the best that most of us could manage was dial-up internet that ran at a mere fraction of the speeds that are possible today.

Waiting 15+ seconds for a web page to load was the norm back then — and we were happy to wait because it was just how the internet worked!

But the internet has changed, and so have people's expectations.

We now live in an age of instant gratification where people expect technology to work instantly and flawlessly. When it doesn't, attitudes rapidly turn sour.

According to research by Eggplant Software, 81% of people in the UK found a slow website to be more frustrating than one that was completely inaccessible. Three-quarters of those polled would seek out a competitor to a company if their website were slow.

Research has also shown that a delay of just 1.5 seconds can substantially increase the bounce rate of a website and reduce conversions by up to two-thirds.

In practical terms, a slow website will drive visitors away, with fewer of those who remain converting to paying customers.

It gets even worse for smartphone users.

Mobile devices usually run websites much more slowly than their desktop counterparts due to slower networks and reduced processing power.

As a result, on mobile, that 1.5-second loading time could suddenly increase to upwards of 7 seconds.

A slow website will reduce your visibility on Google.

In light of a slow website's impact on user experience, search engines have been placing increasing value on a website's performance. To the point where page speed is now a direct factor in how well websites perform in search results.

Slower websites will still appear in search engine results, of course, but a slow website will be placed considerably further down the page.

Unfortunately, if you're not on page one, you might as well be invisible, as three-quarters of people don't browse past the first page of search results.

Even being placed halfway down the first page of results will drastically reduce the number of visits to your site. And to put it rather simplistically, clicks mean customers.

Ultimately, a slow website will impact people's perceptions of your business and the professionalism of the owners. "What else are they cutting corners on if they aren't investing in their website?"

In short:

If your website is slow to load,

  1. You're annoying potential customers to the point they'll seek out a competitor.
  2. Search engines will prioritise other websites over your own for highly competitive search terms.
  3. You run the risk of your business unfairly making a poor first impression.

What causes a website to slow down, and how can we fix it?

Fortunately, a slow website is usually the result of one or two relatively simple problems. Still, some issues are more challenging to resolve than others, and some do require web design experience to address adequately:

A poorly built theme

The most likely cause of a slow website is a theme created by inexperienced web designers, who frequently fail to consider anything other than what the user can see. An optimised theme plays a large part in ensuring that a website loads quickly, but several steps can be taken to maximise performance.

The fix: Test pages on your website using the PageSpeed Insights service. It'll generate a report that your web designer can use to address all the opportunities in the 'performance' section. Fixing these issues should make a significant difference in your website's speed.

Poorly optimised imagery.

Another issue often caused by an inexperienced web designer is poorly optimised imagery on your website — or worse, no image optimisation at all. Unoptimised imagery is a significant issue, and loading huge or poorly optimised images can devastate your website's performance.

The fix: When adding photographs to your website, they must be displayed at an appropriate size and in a modern format, such as WebP. We recommend using WP Smush to compress images if you run a WordPress website.

Cheap hosting

Cutting costs on website hosting can lead to major headaches. A cheap shared hosting plan is generally too good to be true. Less reputable providers like to cram hundreds of these cheap accounts on a single server to get a better ROI, overcrowding them in the process and slowing down all websites on that server.

The fix: If you choose shared hosting, make sure you host your website with a firm with many positive reviews and, preferably, a host that offers a "low contention" option so that other sites on the same server don't starve your website of resources. We recommend Krystal.

Too many or outdated plugins

If you happen to be running a WordPress website and you're getting slow performance - check your plugins. Outdated plugins can dramatically slow down your website, especially if they're encountering errors. Errors slow down a website even if you can't see them.

The fix: Ensure your website's plugins are kept up-to-date and check the server logs for errors. Fix any errors you can. It's worth checking if you need all the plugins you have installed.f you didn't build your site, speak to your web designer to see if any plugins can be safely removed.

Sound like a whole lot of hard work to you?

While most of these issues are not difficult for a competent web designer to solve, they can be very intimidating if you don't happen to be one.

This is why we're creating Easy Eatery — to help ensure that none of these common issues hinders your success as a business owner.

An Easy Eatery restaurant website will be lightning-fast and expertly optimised. It will do everything possible to help you find new customers and seat them at your venue.

We're currently preparing the next phase of Easy Eatery's development. We will open up a limited number of places in our early-access programme in the coming weeks.

If you're interested in participating, we strongly advise you to subscribe for updates to be among the first to know when applications are open.

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