We all consider a number of different factors before deciding where to eat, but what about the aesthetics of the menu? Can something simple as a restaurant's menu design determine where and what you will eat?
Of course it can, and does. Designing exceptional menus for a new cafe, both on paper and online, is an essential part of any hospitality business looking to improve on their sales.
Restaurant menus are not only lists of the dishes you have available, but also efficient advertising tools that communicate the identity of your business to customers. Outlined below are various strategies to guide you as you print new, creative and effective restaurant menus:
Before you rush out to print your restaurant menu, consider the placement of the food items. The location of each item on the menu has an impact on its sales, due to a phenomenon known as “visual hierarchy.” Think about what people will see first.
● The top centre – regardless of a vertical or horizontal menu format, the prime position for any food item is in the top third region, in the centre.
● Top right, directly across the first item – many language are read read from left to right. Therefore, if the eye gets drawn to the centre item, the next logical step is looking directly to what’s on its right.
● Top left, directly across from first and second item – after checking the prime spots on the menu, most readers tend to shift back into a normal reading pattern. They will start at the top left, reading down the column.
● Back of the menu – another collective behaviour is that people will try to find out what is printed at the back. This space can be reserved for specials.
● Under large headings – headers are a must for those who print restaurant menus. This gives hungry customers a quick pointer towards what they are looking for. For example, “Drinks,” or “Appetisers.”
When organising the placement, consider the natural progression of the meals. Any menu should have a flow that mimics the order of the courses.
It is prudent to have more than one menu design. You will need a physical menu for those seated in the restaurant – which could be something on paper, a billboard on the wall or behind the counter – and a digital screen for placing orders. You should also have a menu on your website or mobile apps for easy marketing.
Always consider images when working on menu designs across all platforms. Whereas you should be cautious with image selection on printed restaurant menus, visuals are an excellent tool for mobile and website menu options. The more enticing the images are, the more likely they are to attract foodies.
Consider different ideas, also, to mix things up. How about a menu presented on a chalkboard, a newspaper-inspired design, or the use of vintage typography? The choice depends on you, and on the identity of your establishment.
Writing compelling copy for your menu tantalises your guests and helps to further reinforce your brand. However, it should be short and to the point.
The tone of your descriptive copy should match your establishment. Light-hearted establishments should go for a fun and energetic approach. Upscale restaurants, on the other hand, should stick to formal styles. The best way to write the descriptions is to consider any questions the client may have about each dish, and then answer these.
Designing a menu is undoubtedly a significant challenge, but it's a worthwhile one.