Case Study

How I Improved The User Experience For A Restaurant Website

Website Development
By Joel Klease · January 2020

Dixons Creek Cafe Bar & Grill is a family-owned restaurant in the heart of Victoria's Yarra Valley. After being in business for 8 years they were in need of an updated website as the existing one had issues which were making it difficult for customers to navigate the website and ultimately place bookings.

After I had rebuilt their website they ended up with a huge 42% increase in average session duration, more customer bookings, and the time to focus on the workings of their restaurant.

We had been operating our restaurant for eight years with the original website that was not optimised for new technology, in addition there was regular feedback from our guests that they could not easily navigate our website.

After a great deal of research, we decided to contract Joel from Straightforward Digital to improve and update our existing website. Since we were not tech savvy Joel analysed our site and came back with a range of suggested solutions in plain English that would improve the website functionality and ultimately increase sales.

Joel worked on these changes and regularly updated us on the progress, he listened to our specific concerns and mandatory constraints and was always professional and courteous to work with, we have no hesitation in recommending his professional services.

- Mark & Kristina Askew, Dixons Creek Cafe Bar & Grill

A New Website Designed For All Screen Sizes

The old website's layout broke when viewing on devices smaller than a desktop resulting in limited usability and confusion for its users. I worked closely with the client to produce a mobile responsive website that felt modern yet still carried the "not-overly-fancy" vibe of the popular restaurant.

The original colours & branding were all kept, and the new design was purposely not a huge leap from the one they had currently. This resulted in a website that performed well, loaded fast, yet didn't confuse users who frequently visited the website.

The new, responsive design working across multiple devices

Clearer Navigation & Improved UX

Due to an unclear call to action, some users were not able to find their way to the bookings page which lead to less website bookings. This was an issue, as the primary objective of the website was to bring users to the booking page to either place a booking directly on the website or call in to do so.

To simplify navigation, I included a clear call-to-action "Book Now" button in the header on desktop. On mobile, I created a button that is snapped to the bottom of the screen so that users are easily able to make a booking from any page on the website. This resulted in a clearer navigation and brought more users to the booking page.

Book a Table button accessible from all pages on the website

A Redesigned, Client-Editable Menu

On the old site, in order to browse the dishes on the restaurant menu users clicked a button which then opened a separate PDF file on their device. This led to a frustrating experience - especially on mobile devices where users had to pinch to zoom on different parts of the multi-page menu.

To make the menu embedded in the website, this meant it had to be re-designed from the ground up. Another requirement was that the menu had to be editable by the client without involvement from a third-party.

To accomplish this, I used Advanced Custom Fields to create the different menus & dishes with all required fields that the client would need to make changes to their ever-changing menu. All of this can be done by the client without them needing to know anything about the design or technical side of things.

This resulted in a menu that was easy to navigate, informative, and responsive across all devices.

Front end of restaurant menu on desktop

Bringing In Social Proof

Even though there were well over 1,000 reviews across their social media channels, there was no way to view them on their website. With the majority of them being 5-star reviews, this resulted in a missed opportunity to gain trust & social proof from reading about past customers' experiences.

To showcase them, I displayed a feed of customer reviews to be automatically pulled in from both Facebook & Google. The aim of this was to increase trust and social proof for those either unfamiliar with the establishment, or those that needed reassurance via the experience of past customers.

Scrolling reviews automatically imported from Facebook & Google

One problem we encountered was finding out that one of the review sources, TripAdvisor, stated in their Terms of Service that they do not allow their reviews to be embedded in anything other than their own widgets. This meant that we were not able to show TripAdvisor reviews directly on the website and had to choose between embedding a TripAdvisor badge which would take the user to the TripAdvisor page, or omit from displaying the TripAdvisor badge entirely. Since TripAdvisor reviews accounted for over 30% of their total reviews, we decided on the former even though it led to a inconsistency in the design.

Useful Reporting With Google Analytics

While Google Analytics had been implemented, it was not getting used to view metrics about the performance of the website or any ad campaigns. This meant there were missed opportunities to make future business decisions based on real data. On top of that, there was no event tracking to effectively measure goal & ad performance.

To do this, I created two goals: one triggered when a user completes an online booking via a form, and another when a user uses the click-to-call button on mobile. After doing this, we were able to measure results much more accurately & see the effectiveness of any Google or Facebook ad campaigns.


The new website had a massive 42% increase to the Average Session Duration metric and the client even received positive comments from customers in the restaurant about it. So it's safe to say that the user experience was much nicer for the end user.

A huge 42% increase in average session duration shown in Google Analytics

All in all, the site was a pleasure to build, and the owners of Dixons Creek Cafe Bar & Grill were great to work with on this project. If you are ever in the Yarra Valley then I suggest you give them a visit for some tasty meals!

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