The DRG came to After Digital looking to refresh their online presence across all of the brands within their portfolio. In order to make things simple and easy when it came to maintaining each of the new websites, they had asked if all of the websites could be built using the same CMS platform, as previously, each of the restaurants was managed on different platforms – making it difficult to keep them all maintained and up-to-date.

The Brief

The client wanted to use a platform that gave them full control and flexibility to maintain and update the website themselves once they had been initially designed and built by us. Meaning they wouldn’t need to spend additional money to keep them updated.

With that in mind, Squarespace was the CMS platform of choice due to the ease of administration; from a perspective of both building and maintaining a website. Choosing Squarespace was also cost-effective for the client and had great built-in features that cater specifically to restaurants, such as the menu formatting function, that The DRG could make use of. Beyond the basics, the platform also allows many restaurant-specific integrations to be added into the website, such as ResDiary or Open table. This meant that users would also be able to book a table and make use of the website; rather than it just being a brochure site to allow people to browse the menus before they visit.

mobile view of the booking capabilities on the drg site for barolo grill

The Process

Given much of our typical approach to building a website is centred around bespoke solutions, and much of this is limited by the nature of the platform both functionally and visually, we’ve opted to streamline our discovery and build process for Squarespace sites. This ensures our time is spent focused on how best to optimise the platform and what’s possible.

After thoroughly reviewing the brief, we will ideally hold a meeting on-site to uncover how to organise the site. This gives our team an idea of look and feel, and of what content is needed. Depending on the project, we will also carry out user research and create a mood board to understand both the organisation’s and its users’ needs and goals. While we will often run sessions with our clients to identify and organise the content and pages that make up a site, The DRG settled on an Information Architecture which would work across the range of their restaurants early on. We also used the same Squarespace template across all the sites, which helps ensure a sense of consistency; even though the look and feel of each are completely unique.

Once a template has been chosen, our designers build out each page in Squarespace; setting up all necessary components and introducing fonts, colours, and textures. Throughout this process, we ensure that each page’s layout is captivating for users and fit to house all relevant content. We often work with placeholder content at this stage — allowing clients to finalise content once everything else has been built out.

Once the build is complete, the site is sent to the client for review and feedback. At this stage, we look to sign off look and feel, as well as the page structure. While we’d be happy to carry out the content population as well, we’ve found that many clients prefer writing content once they see where it will sit on the site and how it will look overall — something Squarespace facilitates with ease.

The Digital Producer is the main point of contact for clients while their projects are being worked on in the studio. They are key to communicating the clients needs to the team internally and vice versa; scheduling the work with the other team members and driving the project forward where possible. Overall, ensuring deadlines are met and the project is delivered within budget.

Based on the decision to use Squarespace as the CMS, and to reduce the cost of implementation for The DRG, there was no requirement to involve a web developer on this project. Squarespace itself has pre-defined templates that require little to no customisation, therefore each of The DRG websites was predominantly built using the existing components. The designer was able to do both the look and feel, and implementation of the page templates at the same time which reduced the overall timeline for delivery.

Once all the pages have been designed and created, the Squarespace staging site is then passed on to the client for review. From then onwards, the client is able to make both content updates and styling changes themselves, as well as being able to complete the go-live process without any help from a web developer.

What we did for The DRG

A key aspect of The DRG’s brief was to translate the unique look and feel of each of the restaurants into their digital presence. From a vibrant Spanish tapas bar to a French eatery reminiscing about transatlantic Ocean voyages to a historic Italian restaurant bathing in the glamour of 1960s ‘La Dolce Vita’ – each restaurant is one of a kind and that had to be reflected throughout each site.

example of The DRG site for the anchorline

In short, it was important to The DRG to maintain the individuality of each restaurant, as the main visitor appeal was to be the boutique experience at each location.

example for the DRG site for cafe andaluz

We relied on a well-thought-out colour scheme, distinctive typography, and high-quality photography to communicate the feel of each restaurant to the users; all while maintaining our usual high standards for user experience.

example of the drg site for barolo grill

The DRG’s sites range in complexity, from single-location restaurants to those represented at multiple locations in multiple cities which required a more complex navigational hierarchy. However, the basic structure of menus, contact, about, book now, groups and events, and gift vouchers were maintained across all sites.

Users are able to access menus digitally, both as pdf downloads as well as directly on-site (typed out into a special menu widget), increasing accessibility – as this will allow screen readers to read out the menus. We also made sure that key information such as contact information, opening hours, and locations could be found intuitively on the sites.

on-device example of the drg site for the citizen

Following the final hand-off, Squarespace’s easy to use drag-and-drop page builder and visual editor has allowed DRG to keep the website updated without requiring our assistance. This has seen The DRG’s marketing team adding essential COVID-19 information pages and giving general updates on whether and when the restaurant would be open to the website as needed. An up-to-date website is essential to user satisfaction, especially when it comes to restaurants, and our Squarespace sites have allowed The DRG to deliver on this expectation.

Key Learnings

A Squarespace website doesn’t necessarily make sense for any business. However, we’ve found a Squarespace site will definitely fit the needs of many businesses.

Using a platform such as Squarespace means the website will be cheaper and quicker to build than bespoke sites. It also means that once the client knows how to navigate the platform, they are able to easily update it themselves. Thus, businesses can take advantage of the expertise of our user experience specialists and dedicated digital producers to set the site up initially – without having to commit the resources required for a bespoke site.

on-device example of the drg site for dimaggios

Of course, Squarespace’s possibilities aren’t endless — using a codeless platform, the design will always be restricted to the templates themselves. Therefore, the layout will not be totally unique. Additionally, many of these platforms fall short on fully-adjustable responsiveness, meaning that your site may end up looking better on some screen sizes than others. Of course, many complex functionalities are simply not supported by Squarespace; such as seat maps for seated events, complex purchase paths, and membership options. Finally, having full control of the site’s layout may also mean that if multiple admins carry out changes and add content over a period of time, the site may be steered further away from the design initially laid out by the UX designer.

Whether or not Squarespace is a suitable solution ultimately depends on the needs of the business and its users. For the needs of DRG, it was the perfect solution — allowing us to create a suite of websites which reflect the unique character of each of their restaurants, while still being easy to maintain and offering full control to the client.

Is a website refresh on the cards for your business? Squarespace may be the easy-to-maintain and cost-effective solution you’re looking for. And, with the help of our specialist UX designers, we can harness Squarespace to its full capacity – enhancing user experience and driving greater results. If you’re interested in finding out more, get in touch via the contact form below.

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