It's your most visible and powerful advertisement if you're starting a restaurant- one customers want to interact with on a daily basis. How they interact with it determines much of your bottom line and if the layout is strategic, you'll likely see a profit. What is this mysterious thing? It's your menu, of course - and executing a great restaurant menu design is a more nuanced process than you think.
Here are seven tips to help you create a restaurant menu design that delights the eye, whets the appetite, and converts into sales - a functional work of art, if you will.
1 - Brand Yourself
When you decided to open a restaurant, you likely gave considerable thought to the interior - the decor, the furniture, and the lighting. You thought of the type of clientele you wanted coming through the door and how best to attract them. You thought of a name that expressed your restaurants personality and a location that would help create the right vibe - don't stop there.
Your restaurant menu is a prime opportunity to display your personality and solidify your brand. The copy, look and feel, tone and style all make an impression on the customer's mind. Choose design elements aligned with your brand and you'll have a better chance at making a lasting impression.
2 - Organize Your Offering
When deciding how to present items on your menu, let there be a method to your madness. Now is not the time to get too creative - save that for font selection, copy tone, and cover design. Organize your items in a logical way that makes it easy for customers to scan and order. Group items together into sections and courses - distinguish entrees from specials and appetizers from sides. Consult restaurant menu templates online if you want to see how others do it - but remember that your menu should represent you. While logical organization is important, try to add your own spin.
3 - Tap Into Customer Psychology
The human brain works in mystifying ways - use your restaurant menu design to capitalize on this. You may know that the eyes are immediately drawn in certain directions and to certain colors, and this applies to menu layouts as well. Do some research on menu layouts or find a menu template you like and watch where your eyes are drawn. Ultimately, there are sweet spots on a menu where you should feature dishes that offer the biggest return on investment, but the location of the sweet spots on your menu will depend on how you design it. You can also use boxes to draw attention to higher-ticket items; customers will generally order whatever dishes have four corners around them more frequently overall.
4 - Stick to What You Can Deliver
Seasonal items may add a bit of class and excitement to your menu and you should capitalize on your seasonal dishes as much as you like - just do it when the time is right. Including items on your menu that you can't deliver will only tend to frustrate customers. Instead of including seasonal items on your regular menu, use menu inserts or an addendum when the time comes to promote your seasonal fare.
5 - Narrow Your Focus and Sign Your Name
Related to number four above, pay particular attention to the number of items you include on your menu. Consider your clientele, the competition, and how you want to differentiate yourself. Does a mix of old favorites suit your vision or are exotic combinations more your style? Decide what you do best and trim your menu accordingly - don't include a million dishes just because your chef can make them.
Once you've narrowed your focus down to what you do best, take it further. Highlighting a few signature dishes is a branding opportunity that pays in dividends. It will give customers something to remember you by and hopefully promote word-of-mouth. Do you make the best grilled salmon in town? Highlight it. If your specialty is a mean carne asada, don't be afraid to promote it. If original cocktails are your thing, perhaps you should create a cocktail menu that stands alone.
6 - Be Detail-Oriented
Not everyone is versed is foodie culture. Take the time to describe the items on your menu. For restaurants going for a modern and minimal feel, large descriptions may seem out of place, and this is where you can get creative. Using a few brief adjectives like "cold," "minty," or "freshly-chopped" can help customers decide on a dish they like. For restaurants with more space to wax foodie, get clever in your descriptions - use the content and tone in your descriptions to promote your brand.
7 - Optimize Your Menu Periodically
It's great to land on restaurant menu template or design you like, but it doesn't mean your work is done. Once or twice a year, review your menu and evaluate performance. Which items generate the largest number of sales and which are rarely ordered? Does your clientele regularly request dishes not on your menu that should be? Is the menu layout serving you? Answer these questions and optimize your menu based on the information gained since your last review to stay competitive and keep profit top-of-mind.