Posted on October 14 2019
A constant challenge for every foodservice establishment is increasing sales without discounts or slashed prices. What you may not realize is that a poor menu design could be discouraging customers from purchasing your most profitable fare. Whether a fine dining restaurant or a mom n’ pop diner, an optimal design can transform a menu into any establishment’s most effective marketing tool.
Plan: Before overhauling a menu’s visual appeal, take stock of its current items. Note the most profitable dishes for each section, such as house specialties and signature items. Determine which add-ons should be emphasized to drive incremental sales and to increase check size, including appetizers, desserts and beverages. Then peruse other menus for inspiration, selecting features that could be incorporated into the new menu design.
Structure: Keep paper length reasonable. Long menus are awkward for customers, as drinks can easily be knocked over and dining partners can be blocked out of view. Make sure a menu doesn’t become overcrowded by opting for no more than two columns per page. Consider using clear menu inserts for frequently updated items, such as lunch, daily, or weekly specials. With a well-planned layout, a lot of information can be included without sacrificing readability or requiring a larger amount of space.
Placement: Strategically placed items can have a subtle effect on what customers order. Increase the likelihood items will be ordered by positioning them in prominent locations, such as at the top of the menu or the upper-right corner. Helpful tip – avoid prominently displaying menu items that require long preparation. Waiting for meals to be served for too long a period can deter guest loyalty.
Descriptions: Menu design is more than just looks. Mouthwatering content that grabs reader’s attention will markedly boost check averages. Use interesting and creative names for menu items. You can rely on descriptions of menu items and your wait staff to provide reader’s with details about each savory dish. Craft meticulous descriptions for high-priced items, emphasizing flavors and textures, and use short descriptions on cheaper staples. This method will encourage customers to order the more delectable dishes. Always include pricing at the end of descriptions rather than in an easily scannable column, and forgo dollar symbols.
Design Elements: Visual organization is the most important component of menu design. Menus should reflect the theme and type of foodservice or hospitality establishment. Page layout, typography and imagery are essential to an effective menu design, as they create visual cues for the reader and direct their attention to more lucrative items. Choose font types in styles and sizes that are easy to read. Incorporate a color scheme that mirrors the tones and hues of the establishment’s décor. Spotlight food and beverage items with high-quality images and illustrations. Separate and clearly identify sections with borders or color blocks, and use a variety of regular and bold styles as well as multiple fonts.
Get Started: To ensure your menu has a professional look, consider hiring an outside consultant, such as a graphic designer or menu engineer. Or opt to use an online program geared towards menu design, such as iStudio Publisher, Hot Operator, Must Have Menus, or MenuPro.