Do you have a website? If not, it’s well past time to create one. If yes, when was the last time you updated it? Have you incorporated any new features, such as mobile interactivity, in the last few years?

There are numerous reasons for your restaurant to have a mobile-friendly website, and we’ll get to that later on in this article, but first we look at restaurant website design trends in 2016.

Some of these trends are sure to be around for a while, and some of them might be popular for a few years and then hit their expiration date. As you look through these trends, think about your customers and their needs as you decide which ones to implement on your website.

Trend #1: The Hamburger Menu

You might have noticed this menu with the three lines while using your smartphone. It’s now showing up on regular desktop-size websites.

While it helps clean up your website’s navigation, not everyone knows what it means. That is especially true if it isn’t accompanied by the word, “menu,” which it often doesn’t.

This trend came about because more people are surfing the web and looking up restaurants on their smartphones. Google even tells us that people are searching more on their phones than their computers.

Because of the increase in mobile searches, web designers needed to find a way to condense their menu while still making it available. Hence, the hamburger menu was born.

Users just need to click the icon, and your restaurant menu pops out.

Regular size websites have jumped on the bandwagon, and designers are incorporating this menu on desktop sites.

Be careful when using this menu and plan yours very carefully. It’s highly likely many of your users won’t know what it means, so make sure some text accompanies it.

It does pay to have your address and phone number at the top of mobile screens, so plan accordingly.

Trend #2: The Cinemagraph

Just what is a cinemagraph? Consider it a “live” photo.

It’s a still photograph where a minor and repeated movement occurs in the form of a video clip. Designers usually create these as an animated GIF, and they give the viewer the illusion that the photo is moving.

Consider these examples:

  • A photo of a glass of champagne where the bubbles are moving.
  • A group of tomatoes that has water dripping on them.
  • A photo of a steak cooking on the grill, and only the flame is moving.

Check out these examples of food cinemagraphs.

This is a great new trend and certainly has its place on restaurant websites. Viewers are intrigued by cinemagraphs, and they add a bit of action and movement to your website.

When using these, be sure you have good web hosting so they don’t slow your site down.

How are they created? They are a combination of still images and video effects.

Visually appealing and eye-catching, designers create them using image editing software.


Trend #3: Bold Fonts

Photographs drive restaurant websites. What you may not know is that fonts can have the same affect.

When used correctly, fonts bring personality to your website in combination with your photos.

In 2016, fonts are bigger, bolder and have the ability to convey emotion.


When choosing fonts for your website, create a style sheet. For example, set a font for your body copy and for all of your headline sizes. This keeps your site consistent and uniform.

Experiment with font styles, but stay true to your brand image.

When it comes to your website’s overall typography, here are a few simple trends to follow:

  • Use of serif fonts (like Times New Roman) is now okay. In the past, they were frowned upon, and designers used only sans-serif (like Arial) fonts for copy. Now that screen resolutions and sizes are getting larger, you can experiment with serif fonts.
  • Handwriting fonts are also rising in popularity because they are more personal and can add a nice touch to a restaurant website.

When experimenting with fonts, test them everywhere – on different browsers and resolutions and on many screen sizes.

Trend #4: Parallax Scrolling

Scrolling effects have taken on a life of their own due in part to the Parallax scrolling effect.

This is another trend stemming mobile phone usage and the way users like to scroll on smartphones. On our phones, we scroll, and scroll and scroll some more.

It used to be this was deemed a bad thing in restaurant website design. But, because users are getting accustomed to scrolling, it’s changed the way designers create websites.

You’ve probably heard the term, “above the fold.” In the past, websites kept all of the important content at the top of the page. The thought was users wouldn’t scroll down, or they’d get bogged down with too much information.

Slowly, scrolling websites have gone mainstream. In fact, you might even find restaurants taking advantage of the one-page website experience.

To make scrolling on desktops and laptops easier, designers are using Parallax scrolling.

It’s a visual effect, really. As users scroll, they find the background moves slower than the foreground, creating a 3D feeling.

Again, a caution. Not all users and browsers can accommodate this trend, so be sure you have a fallback.

A final note about scrolling for those of you still “stuck above the fold:” Google considers pages with more content to be more valuable than those with little content. So, longer pages with more scrolling can lead to a higher website ranking in restaurant-related search results.

Trend #5: Brilliant Photography

Photos sell your restaurant, and as such deserve to be professionally taken.

We call this trend new, because in 2016 there is an even greater importance set on food photography. It can literally make or break your website.

Photo: Monstruo Estudio


Trend #6: UX Design

While user experience (UX) design isn’t an entirely new concept, it’s a new trend in 2016, and one designers are paying attention to.

What is UX design? It’s a focus on providing the best user experience possible on your website. It’s helping your users interact with your website’s interface.

Designers who build sites while thinking about user experience design are concerned with enhancing user satisfaction through website usability, accessibility and pleasure in the browsing experience.


Paying attention to UX design means thinking about the user experience and how your website visitor will get from point a to point b and back again.

Simplicity in design is crucial to UX design. Concentrate on navigation and making your site very simple to navigate. Think about the flow from one area of your site to another. Is it natural and intuitive?

Trend #7: The Hero Image

The hero image is a large banner image that lands in a place of prominence on your website – think front and center.

It’s what your visitor first sees on your site, and its purpose is to bring your visitor in.

Humans are visual, and website design in 2016 is very image-centric. Because of the purpose of your restaurant website – to highlight your food – and the potential for vividly, beautiful imagery, the hero image is a good trend to incorporate.

This dominant image could be a gorgeous food photo or a cinemagraph. The hero image allows you to showcase a signature dish, your beautiful atmosphere or customers dining on your food.

Use the hero image with purpose for the best results.

See Example


Trend #8: Illustrations

Illustration has made comeback in 2016, due in part to the rise of the infographic.

When partnered with rich photographs, visuals can be very effective on restaurant websites. Custom illustrations help you stand out from your partners while providing a very shareable (think social media) image.

You can incorporate illustrations into your hero image or use them on their own. Be sure they fit in with the overall feel and color scheme of your website and that they have a distinct purpose.


Trend #9: Interactivity

Brochure sites are a thing of the past. Your website must have interactivity. In other words, your site visitors need to be able to interact with you on your website.

This means incorporating online ordering systems, reservations and a number on estimated wait times.

Simple things to make your site interactive include adding buttons for your phone number and email so mobile users can call with one click.


Trend #10: More Imagery, Less Text

Another trend we’re seeing is less text and more photos in restaurant design. Sites are letting the photos speak volumes.

While website visitors pay more attention to photos, this does create a bit of a balancing act between the user experience and your search engine optimization (SEO). Search engines need text to index your site.

Do include a bit of text with each image. This is easier done on your home page. You can leave text-rich content for your subpages.

Trend #11: The Importance of a Responsive Website

Some restaurants don’t think it’s necessary to have a website. They feel like it’s too expensive, and customers can find them on their own.

This couldn’t be more detrimental to your success.

The last and final trend we’re talking about today is the importance of having not only a website, but a website that is updated and mobile-friendly. This means it responds and resizes to different device sizes from smartphone to tablet to laptop and desktop.

Mobile Internet users are not a novelty. In fact, they are surpassing desktop users. You can expect this gap to widen in the very near future.

Restaurants see an even larger number of mobile users on their website because people are often looking for restaurants while on the road.

If your site isn’t prepared to meet these mobile users, the time is now to make a change.

What’s more, your restaurant’s website is the pivotal piece for all of your marketing efforts. Just look at all the areas leading straight to your website:

  • Customers look for your address and phone online.
  • Customers see your menu online first.
  • Your website allows customers to order online.
  • Social media posts link to your website.
  • Email marketing links to your website.
  • Television, radio and print ads direct people to your website.

So, you can see that your website is of the utmost importance to your marketing efforts. If you don’t have one, or yours looks like it’s stuck in the early 2000s, it’s time to work on your website.

If customers can’t learn about your business online, the odds they’ll reach out to visit drop significantly.

When restaurants modernize their website and launch responsive, mobile-friendly websites, they can increase their revenues significantly. You make customer interactions easier and provide just the right amount of information.

We’ve discussed some of the advantages a responsive, mobile-friendly website affords your restaurant, but here are a few more reasons it’s a necessity.

  1. The costs are low. While the initial cost may seem large, compared to print and televisions ads, the cost is really minimal. Plus, your responsive website is open to anyone with Internet access every day, all day. You can easily replace outdated info as well.
  2. Advertise your location, hours, menu and special offers. Your website is a platform just begging for updates. In fact, Google rewards you for your updated website.
  3. You can post video as well as text reviews from customers. This is a great way to build your business and increase customer’s trust and loyalty.
  4. It’s a non-stop way to increase brand awareness. The first place people look for information about your restaurant is online. Make sure you are there. Ensure your website is viewable on all types of devices from smartphones to desktops.
  5. Search engine optimization provides an avenue for you to be improving all the time and gaining more exposure for your restaurant.
  6. Customers can order online, make reservations and purchase gift cards on your website from their computer or smartphone because it’s mobile-friendly. Provide this service to your customers to increase business.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got a list of the restaurant website design trends in 2016, and you understand the importance of a mobile-friendly, responsive website, put some of these trends to the test.

While each trend has its audience, and some trends will work better for others, give them a shot. Test your pages and see if they work for you.

Use these trends to help your restaurant website stand out in a crowd.

Finally, your website isn’t something you create and publish and then ignore. Think of your website as an every-changing and evolving platform to advertise your restaurant.

With new trends and opportunities, you’ll constantly find ways to incorporate content and your message on your website.