You built your restaurant from the ground up, and it’s finally ready for launch. You put in all the long hours to get everything in place – from staffing to overhead costs and everything in between.
Now that you've handled the hard stuff, it’s time to take care of one detail that also happens to be a lot of fun: designing your restaurant menu. An often overlooked part of restaurant management, your menu design will leave a lasting impression on the guests who dine at your establishment.
They want a menu that looks appealing and professional at the same time–a hard balance to get right. In this post, we’ll go over the 5 key tips to make your menu stand out from the rest.
How to Design A Restaurant Menu
Tip #1: Choose Your Typography Carefully
The font that you use for your menu will depend on a number of factors–including your target audience and overall brand voice. But you want to make sure that it’s not too confusing to read and matches the aesthetic of your restaurant. A couple of suggestions to consider: use a couple of different fonts to distinguish key sections from each other or use the same fonts that can be found on your website, logo or other branding.
Tip #2: Choose the Right Colors
This one is a natural follow-up to the previous tip, because you want your typography and colors to go hand in hand. The colors also depend on your restaurant’s overall branding, and it should immediately make your guests feel at ease. For example, Mexican restaurants might use more vibrant colors to match the upbeat nature of the music and environment, but high-end steakhouses usually choose more subdued colors to better match their tone.
Tip #3: Use Logic to Divide the Menu
One of the key menu and brand problems to avoid is buyer confusion. Struggling to figure out what to order because the menu isn’t organized can create a bad experience for your customers. This could result in food getting sent back to the kitchen, a lack of repeat business or bad reviews.
To help avoid this, lay out each section of your menu in a logical dining order with different categories of food separated from others (appetizers, salads, entrees, desserts, drinks etc.) so your guests can quickly understand your options. Another recommendation is to use boxes, headlines or other visual effects that separate sections from one another. Even a subtle differentiator will enhance your menu design and immediately clarify the ordering options for customers.
Tip #4: Consider Eliminating the Dollar Sign
A number of studies show that eliminating the dollar sign results in higher sales and happier customers who are willing to pay more. No one wants to be reminded exactly how much money they’re spending, even if it is for a wonderful occasion like a night out at a restaurant. Dollar signs trigger negative associations, so a good strategy to consider is eliminating them altogether. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t list your prices. By using simple numbers without a dollar sign you can let your customers know what to expect with a bit of a gentler touch.
Tip #5: Use Words to Your Advantage
People make buying decisions based on emotion first and then they justify them with logic. What this means is that descriptive words like savory, crisp, fruity and creamy are great buying words to include on your menu. Any word that elicits powerful mouth-watering emotions from consumers will make your menu pop.
Eating at a restaurant is an experience, so highlight the ingredients that make your dishes unique and flavorful. This also gives your guests a good idea of what to expect with each dish, which can cut down on dissatisfied customers who ordered something they didn’t understand. You want to create a memorable experience for your guests–that’s what encourages great reviews and loyal, repeat customers.
These 5 tips include subtle but important ways to make your restaurant menu design stand out from the rest. As one final piece of advice, make sure all design decisions align with your restaurant’s particular brand and personality. You want your menu to feel like a natural and congruent addition to your logo, restaurant space, food and overall experience.