The Importance of Restaurant Menu Design
The last time I went out to a restaurant with a group of friends, we were given menus to look over while we waited for our server to greet us. We spent majority of the time talking to one another, and not spending too much time on the menu. The server greeted us with a brief run down of how they served their courses, essentially giving us a verbal breakdown down of the printed menu. After the server left the table we talked less to focus on the menu more trying to decipher how everything worked. Pair this with this, pick this, this, and this. Or this option includes this or that? What did the server say? I was only half listening. The server came back and we had to ask for them to explain the menu a second time; you could sense the frustration from the server, and it's safe to say we all felt a little silly that we couldn't so easily figure out how ordering worked by just reading over the menu. So first impression, not good.
When people go out to eat, they're usually there to enjoy the company and the food is there to compliment the outing. (I know there are exceptions to every rule, but this is generally speaking.) Having a menu that offers too many options and is poorly designed, can lead to frustration and confusion right of the bat. It should not be difficult for a person to understand how to order food from any restaurant; however, menu design is often overlooked and undervalued. I'm hoping some of these key points can help raise awareness as to why investing into the design of your restaurant should be a top priority.
This is the first introduction to the food at your restaurant, and along with the overall decor and ambiance, it's also setting the tone and expectation. The menu should be easy to navigate with clear sections, and it should flow in a way that feels intuitive to the users. When something is clear and easy to understand it creates a sense of calm on a subconscious level, suddenly putting patrons at ease. Not to mention in an age where social media rules our experiences, the more we have to share the better, and a great menu design adds to the picture options. When people go out to eat they have plenty to share, their outfits, the decor, the food, and adding beautifully designed menus just adds to the possibility for more likes. Do not underestimate the power this has.
Leona Design is honored to say we have seen our menus used to compliment restaurant outings for many pictures on social media, particularly Instagram. It helps had variety to the images being taken, it also helps create more of a narrative for what is taking place. Brunch at The Smiling Bison in Sanford, FL with a cherry mimosa.. someone else can see this, and come to your restaurant all because of this picture. You have suddenly increased your ROI with menu design thanks to the power of social media sharing.
Once the environment has been set and the user is at ease, the placement of particular menu items within the layout can influence what the patron might order. Now there are different rules based on how many columns the layout has, but every layout has the option for a restaurant to increase revenue if done correctly. We once worked with a restaurant that listed the most expensive item at the bottom of the menu, BIG MISTAKE. When a person browses over a menu and they get to the end of the menu, seeing the most expensive thing at that point rarely sounds like a good option. Case study with a former client showed an individual server went from rarely selling that bottom of the menu, $42 item in a week, to sometimes selling that item numerous within one shift after our redesign.
Investing into menu redesign can instantly increase profits for your restaurant, and it's not a theory, it's a fact based on the science of human behavior. For every menu we have redesigned, we can accurately predict which item will be a "hot seller" simply based off of the location it finds itself on the menu.
Design Your Way wrote about some key tips to consider when it comes to a great layout design for a restaurant menu. "Good restaurant menu design is not a matter of luck. It’s such an important factor in a restaurant’s profit margin that it merits serious consideration." We are honored to see our work featured in this article and used as an example for what good layout design looks like.
There is an art and science behind designing a menu that can make a restaurant more money and enhance the overall experience for the guest. One of the best compliments we've ever received was from someone who spent good money on a five course dinner featuring top-notch chefs, but told us they "spent the whole night wondering who designed the menus."
Whether you're opening a new restaurant or simply need a redesign of the menus you currently have, we'd love to talk further with you about the project.