Your restaurant’s external look and design caught the attention of customers while they’re outside. Now, they’ve just stepped inside, have taken a seat, and they’re about to open your restaurant menu. While your food is the heart of your business, the menu is the soul. Customers get to know more about your offerings with a simple menu scan.
Their choices do not only depend on how tasty or popular a dish is. Often, it’s the way your menu organises food items that makes all the difference in making popular and highly-profitable dishes originating from your restaurant. Here are some of the best tips we have to help you create an amazing and delectable menu with irresistible items.
The Travel Path of The Eyes: The ‘F’ Pattern
Believe it or not, the eyes have a predictable scanning and reading pattern. When you read a book, you first scan the title — the biggest element in the cover — and then the subheaders along with it. Our eyes go from one subheader and then down to the next.
Designers of all kinds know this as the “F” scanning pattern. The eyes travel in an F route for people that read left to right. Positioning items strategically along the eye path helps you create best sellers and make introductory meals tempting for new guests.
Group Things With Subtle Cues
You’ve definitely seen a local eatery do this: their menu is all their items listed out in a table. Right next to the dish name is the dish price. You don’t even see photographs of the dishes. If you ever did, you need to match the dish’s position number with the photograph’s respective number. While this does the job for most restaurants, it doesn’t mean it pleases the eye of customers.
A truly world-class restaurant experience makes it easy for guests to identify which type of dishes to eat. Categorisation is a great way to help customers — especially first-timers — to find dishes they will love to eat again and again.
In Order of Consumption
This is most effective for fine dining restaurants. Sorting dishes according to the sequence they’re eaten makes them more appealing to customers. For example, the hungriest customers will head right into the appetiser section to get something to munch on while waiting for their main course. Meanwhile, those who are satiated enough will want to order food from the entrees or main course.
Another form of consumption order is to sort them by the time people eat them. Organising food by breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a great way to organise food in your menu. This is useful if you offer all-day breakfast or lunch dishes.
Organised By Size
Main courses are heftier than appetisers and they will always require more preparation time. Alternatively, family-sized dishes (if you’re a family or group-oriented restaurant) will take an almost-similar length of preparation time. Organising dishes in your menu by their size allows waiters to brief your customers on the estimated amount of time before you can serve their food. In fact, some fast-cooking or take-out restaurants even add the estimated serving time right next to their menu items.
Organising dishes by size doesn’t have to always provide the particular convenience of customer serving time expectations. It can just be a way to give things a pattern or organisation that makes it easier for customers to find dishes they will like to eat based on their appetite or hunger level.
Categorised By Popularity
If you’re a restaurant that has opened for more than a year, you’ve definitely made some best sellers and greatest hits. Redesigning your menu to categorise your most popular and profitable dishes can be convenient especially for first-time customers. In fact, most tourist-oriented restaurants use this categorisation because it give the foreigners a lasting impression of the restaurant and local dishes.
You can use menu headers such as “Most Popular,” “All-Time Favorites,” “Classics,” and other similar descriptors that make it clear the majority of your restaurant patrons love and guarantee an excellent dining experience each time.
A Unique Set of Letterings
Handwriting is what distinguishes people from each other in many ways. The same is true for your restaurant. Of course, you’ll want it to appear professional yet unique. In some cases, even quirky text can work to your advantage.
However, legibility and its capacity to achieve harmony with your restaurant theme and aesthetic should always be your priority. Many unique fonts are available online with a quick search in Fontspace or similar websites. Shopping around, you’ll definitely find an excellent set that you can work with.
If you’re having problems making a decision, here’s a great guide about font characteristics. This can help you pin down the best type of font to use in your menu.
Colour Palettes That Agree With Your Brand
This process is similar to what you used when you picked out colours for your restaurant logo and header. In fact, you can use those colours as the primary colour palette of your menu. The main goals here are to choose colours that look harmonious, reflect your brand, and still make your menu text readable.
You’ll need to determine the following elements to choose the best colours for your restaurant:
The Dominant Colour of Your Menu
When you look at the Coca-Cola logo, red is the obvious primary colour. Now, look at your logo and identify the dominant colour. This might seem like the background, but it plays the biggest role in your menu’s overall colour scheme.
One single colour isn’t enough to identify your brand. Accents bring out an amazing feel that can exude casualness, glamour, or quirkiness depending on how you use it. However, don’t go overboard — you want people to focus on your menu items. About one to two accent colours in addition to your dominant colour is already enough.
Canva has a useful tool that helps you determine the best colour palettes for your brand. You can give it a whirl here!
A Hierarchy of Symbols
Wait, there are symbols in menus? Why didn’t I see them in McDonalds?
Fast-food chains use display hierarchy because they have no tabletop menus. Therefore, the items you see with photos are the one’s they’re promoting or the ones which are best-selling.
In restaurants, having a hierarchy of symbols in your menu helps you guide newcomers to have a tasteful and memorable experience. Alternatively, you can introduce customers looking for budget yet quality dishes to items they’re looking for easily too.
Your symbols can be anything. Some chicken dish-specialty restaurants use a small chicken head or chicken body icon beside their best sellers and an egg on their quality yet affordable meals. The most important thing: use symbols to help customers identify these three types of menu items quickly.
These are what previous customers are raving about in restaurant review sites and online delivery app testimonials! In some cases, you’ve seen some local bloggers and vloggers ask permission to review this dish and feature it in their content. Often, a star symbol should suffice, but you can also use other symbols that relate with your brand’s logo or overall branding.
These are meals accessible to a huge variety of customers. For example, a triple-patty burger in your restaurant is your best seller because of its value for money and taste. However, its price might be too high for some, or it’s too large to eat for the majority. The budget-popular product you have might be a single-patty burger that has excellent taste and is adequately feeling.
Often, you can use a clear label for these items with short statements such as “New!” or “First In The World” to make these menu items interesting and attention-grabbing. Introductory meals are your new works that most likely your best-sellers inspired. These useful symbols give it a chance to become ordered and gain potential fame.
Write Delicious and Hunger-Inducing Menu Descriptions
What makes you more hungry and attracted to a dish before you can even smell and eat it? First, it’s the picture. Next, it’s the description underneath the item you’re prospecting to eat.
Writing delicious descriptions isn’t just about enumerating the ingredient and the cooking process you used to create them. You’ll need to inject the dish, the restaurant’s, and your own passionate soul when writing the most tasteful and hunger-inducing menu descriptions possible.
Feelings More Than Technicalities
It’s easy to just list down that you used carrots, poultry, fillets, and other ingredients into your menu. However, anybody can find a dish recipe online, read it, and feel nothing about it.
Your menu descriptions should focus more on your customer’s hunger. For example, adjectives such as “filling,” “succulent,” “satisfying,” and “scrumptious” introduces feelings of hunger and desire to eat.
Additional words that detail the size of the dish complements the meal photographs (if any) helps induce more feelings of hunger and desire for the dish. “Family-sized,” “groups of 2-3,” and “sizeable feasts” are some examples of descriptive words that talk about quantity.
Short and Sweet Does It
Your customers are hungry when they arrive at your restaurant. Often, their hunger will guide their choices. Your descriptions help them picture what they’ll feel like after eating it. However, don’t write a novel of a description.
Remember, your audience is hungry, so limiting your descriptions to one to two sentences with at least one to two delicious adjectives is an excellent way to make a short and sweet description.
Include Social/Customer Proof if Any
The menu already has an indicator of a top-seller, so why should I still include social proof? Shouldn’t I reserve them for my website or a “testimonial wall” that some restaurants also have?
If you’ve been featured once or twice in a blog or any online or TV feature, you can include the blogger/vlogger or online/TV show’s name on the side of your dish. A small label that reads “as featured on (TV show)” can attract attention and arouse the customer’s curiosity.
This is a great way to introduce new items on your menu that you believe have strong potential to become best-sellers too!
The less time a hungry customer spends waiting, the better it is for your restaurant. Aside from your delicious descriptions and well-designed menu, customers will observe your photographs the most. In fact, photographs set a customer’s expectations at different levels.
A beautiful photograph of a pizza is always arresting (that’s why most of us are browsing in Instagram for food). Therefore, the dish you serve should appear and taste in the same delectable and satisfyingly gastronomic appearance as it did in your menu photograph.
There is such a thing as too much presentation in a menu photograph. Sometimes, photogenic food might only look gorgeous, but customers might find it not to their taste or fail to satisfy them. True enough, food photography is a balancing act. However, it also means you should present your food in the best way possible. Here is a great guide that may help you figure food photography for menus effectively.
Price, Price, Price?
There is a great strategy when it comes to displaying prices on your menus. You’ve definitely heard of the cents rule. By making prices look less than they should, you can make certain food look more affordable. For example, a $10 price looks more intimidating than having it displayed as $9.99.
A great way to display your price is to never remind people they’re spending money. This harmonises with the food description you write, which is to bring the customer into another world when they eat your dishes.
Experimenting with design concepts such as using low contrast to make the prices less readable (but still there and legible), making them smaller, or even removing the entire currency symbol itself are some strategies you can use. In fact, embellishing any kind of pattern to make prices visually unimportant is a great way to display them on menus.
A Successful Menu Will Always Smell Like Delicious Success!
Sure enough, you’ll find more tips and ideas to add to this list we’ve provided you when it comes to making an excellent menu design. However, even with these basic principles, you can have an excellent menu that guides your customer to dishes they will certainly love and satisfy their cravings.
Better yet, having your own dedicated F&B online menu, delivery system, and everything else in between will let you collect customer feedback. In turn, you can improve your menu and even modify it in real time without any problems.
If you’re interested in having your own F&B platform that has everything you need, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.