How to Run a Bar: Importance of a Website - dummies

How to Run a Bar: Importance of a Website

By Ray Foley, Heather Dismore

Websites are a must-have item for every business, even bars, these days. A website can tell people on the other side of town or on the other side of the world about your place. Its reach is limitless.

How to register your bar website address

Register your website address as soon as you choose a name for the bar. Make sure you make it simple and closely related to the name of your bar. For example, if your bar’s name is Muldoon’s, is a natural choice. Unfortunately, it’s already the home of Muldoon’s Men’s Wear, so you’ll have to pick another one.

Keep the address reasonable, like or and so on. (Incidentally, both of these are taken as well, so if you’re going to open up a bar called Muldoon’s, you’re going to have a challenge on your hands when it comes to choosing a website address.) Skip using crazy punctuation or weird spelling (unless the name of your bar is truly unique, Muldoonz, for example).

You can register your address, get design help, and launch a website quickly with a company like Network Solutions, Yahoo!, or Netfirms.

How to get your bar’s website content together

Your website doesn’t have to be full of the latest drop-downs, rollovers, superslick graphics, or Flash videos. And it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Here are the basics to include on your bar’s website:

  • Your address and phone number: Most people look up bars online to order drinks for delivery — no! — to find out the location. Make sure people can click through the address to a map application that will help them navigate right to your door.

  • Your hours of operation: ’Nough said.

  • Your menu: Including a PDF (portable document format) is recommended of the menu on the website. A PDF preserves all the graphical elements of the menu, reinforcing your brand. Plus, if your patrons see something they like, they’ll be able to find it when they actually come in, because the physical menu will look exactly the same as the virtual one.

  • Links to your social networking profiles: Make it easy for people to follow you on Twitter and Instagram or “Like” you on Facebook by including simple links.

  • Your calendar of events: List your upcoming bands, ladies’ nights, and tap takeovers.

  • Your drink specials: Include your happy hour prices, Margarita Mondays, and other drink specials you have.

  • Opportunities for patrons to sign up for newsletters, mailings, and website updates: Give them a chance to become part of your bar family. After they sign up, send weekly updates about what’s going on and encourage them to bring friends.

If you have merchandise like sweatshirts, T-shirts, and gift certificates that you sell in the bar, consider making them available for sale on your website too. A shopping-cart feature is a little more complicated and expensive, so if you don’t want to start out with one, that’s okay. You can always add one later.

Work with your web designer to make sure your website is adaptive. An adaptive website is one that adapts to whatever screen size the user is viewing it on. So if someone is viewing your website on a mobile phone, the web page shrinks to fit that screen without the user having to navigate around to simply read the home page.

Mobile Internet browsing is growing exponentially, so you definitely want a site that’s easy to view on a smartphone. If you choose an adaptive website, you need to develop only one site rather than two: a “regular” site and a separate mobile-friendly site.

Why to consider do-it-yourself web design for your bar

Many blogging platforms, including Blogger, WordPress, and Tumblr, exist for you to create a free website for your bar. You can absolutely go that route, especially if you already have experience with one (or more) of them.

Additionally, most hosting companies have a very basic site builder that can help you create a generic website all by yourself in minutes. Yahoo! Small Business, GoDaddy, and FatCow are a few such hosting companies.

If you don’t have the budget to spend thousands on a website but don’t want to go it completely alone, look for a company that has some basic restaurant/bar-specific tools to make the whole process easier, yet still gives you a professional site at the end of the process. If you’re looking to create a bar website on a budget, a few companies can get you started for almost nothing:

  • Happytables specializes in hosting basic websites for restaurants for free. If you’d like to have more customization and the ability to integrate events, reservations, and e-mail newsletters, they can do that for you for $39 per month.

  • Let’s Eat offers even more customization, including integration with your bar’s Facebook page for $10 a month. Let’s Eat offers a free version that’s ad supported, meaning other companies could have their brands and offers on your website.

  • Squarespace is a great choice if you have some photography experience. For as little as $20 per month, the company offers incredibly customizable templates that turn out to be absolutely gorgeous when paired with professional photos. Step up to $30 a month if you want an online store too. Browse through the templates for restaurants to get a sense of what your website could look like.