Do pubs need a website?
With 55 million internet users in the UK, the vast majority of which log on every day, it is not possible that potential new customers of yours are not using the internet, so it makes a great deal of sense that you give them the opportunity to know your business exists.
Despite the fantastic coverage Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels can give, these are great supplements to having your own website but do not offer enough flexibility to consider having them as your only digital channel. Almost all social media promotion is designed to bring interested parties back to your website which not only is seen by Google as very positive, it gives you much more space to tell them more about you and capture more data about them.
So many pubs still do not have a website which means they are missing out on thousands of people knowing about them, and potentially hundreds of new customers.
Here we look at getting the foundations correct. After the foundations for your website are built, it’s then time to look at all the fun elements such as text, photos, layouts and designs.
Domains & Hosting
First steps first though; before you even starting thinking about the design of your website, you will need to buy your website address (domain) and some space on the internet for it to sit on (hosting.) There are hundreds of companies who offer domain registration and hosting services and all offer slightly different pricing and contract options. Ultimately it is your choice who to use but our experience tells us:
Use a UK Hosting company, with a Support Team in the UK. Sadly the big names that advertise on the television tend to be based in the US and have offshore call centres. Having your website hosted on a US server can cause problems later on, and having non UK based Support staff is rarely a good choice. There are several UK Hosting companies we recommend.
A website domain is a little like a car number plate – only one can exist – so use one of the online services to check which ones have not been registered.
For example, If your pub is called The Ship, the domain theshippub.co.uk was taken long ago, so you need to be a bit more creative whilst still making it easy for easy to find you by name. If your pub (eg The Ship) is based in Guildford, it would make sense to consider domains such as shippubguildford.co.uk etc (There are good reasons why you should include words like pub, bar, restaurant in the domain name which we will cover in another article)
Whilst we recommend all UK based pubs have the.co.uk variation of a domain name, there is often debate about whether you should also buy the dot com, the dot org and so on. Our advice is simple – buy the main variations and then point them all to the dot co dot uk which becomes your main domain.
Ensure your hosting package is compatible with the functionality you want from your website. For example, almost all hosting packages make it easy for you to link a few pages together and upload your Sunday Lunch Menu, but if you want your table reservation or bedroom software to work perfectly on your website you need to make sure the web server is compatible.
Once you have the structure agreed, it’s time to consider page layout, design ideas, SEO, how to create a website that works well on a mobile phone, the importance of analytics, how to promote your website and how best to capture customers contact information.