Often times, a creatively designed restaurant menu has been known to stimulate customers’ appetite and evoke cravings. To the restaurant owner, however, the menu serves a greater purpose than luring customers and guiding them in their choice of food. It is much more than a list of all available dishes and drinks- it is a piece of the restaurant’s branding, with the ability to communicate the brand’s message to the audience loud and clear with unique designs.
Consequently, it is important to make sure that the visual aesthetic of the menu corresponds to the restaurant’s image and brand identity, and what kind of dining experience the restaurant wants its guests to have. As such, every restaurant owner tries to get their menu designed with a pinch of creativity and a dash of artistic flair.
According to a survey by Gallup, the average customer generally only spends a brief amount of time, around 109 seconds, looking at a menu. This means that restaurants have a little over one minute to make a good first impression with their menu. Clear section headings, short dish descriptions, and a minimal aesthetic with cool designs is the safest way to make your menu both legible and visually-appealing. Listed below are five tips to make the most gratifying restaurant menu designs.
1. Plan the placements
Ideally, your customers should be in a position to see all of the items on the menu at a glance. From that perspective, two-page menus are the most ideal format. But in most cases, such a layout fails to give enough space to the whole list of dishes and drinks in a way that is easily legible to the readers.
In that case, make it easy for customers to search for dishes by arranging all items sequentially, and in logical groups. Break your menu down by sections: entrees, main courses, sides, and desserts. Alternatively, you can have a separate smaller menu dedicated only to desserts and drinks, with cool designs on it. This format minimizes clutter and gives your main menu more space to work with.
While planning item placements, be wary of the ‘sweet spot’ at the top right corner. For the longest time, restaurants have based their menu designs on the assumption that the average customer’s eye is instinctively drawn to the upper right hand corner of the menu, thus all bestsellers and high-profit items are usually placed in that spot. However, latest research suggests that consumers tend to read menus like a regular book, starting from the top left corner. The easiest way to avoid the ‘sweet spot’ debate is to simply plan placements as per product category.
2. Be wary of the visuals
Too many photos on a food menu may not always be a good idea. High-end restaurants often refrain from adding any pictures of their items on the menu because photography is subjective, and not all food images will appeal to everyone. Unless you are absolutely confident of the presentation of your dish, and have a high-quality image of the same, refrain from adding food photographs on the menu and leave the visualization bit to the customer’s imagination. You can try using illustrations and other unique designs instead- they fit well in a menu design, have a more universal appeal, and can uniquely communicate the restaurant’s branding as well.
3. Know what to accentuate
You cannot bank on your guests to read through the entirety of your menu diligently before ordering. A subtle way to divert the reader’s attention towards profitable items is through tactful menu design. Box designs (decorated enclosures), for instance, is an easy way to highlight a certain group of items, and is often used by restaurant owners to promote dishes with the highest profit margins.
Again, while accentuating certain items on the menu, it is advisable to not add any extra emphasis on currency signs. As a ground rule, all businesses should avoid making customers conscious of the cost of their order. Besides, there is research suggesting that customers are usually more likely to spend more money when pricing is not prominently displayed or denoted with currency symbols.
4. Fonts matter
The right choice of typography not only helps in creating a clear and easy-to-read menu, but can also play an important role in communicating a restaurant’s brand image. The selection of a specific typeface should take into consideration factors such as the amount of text that needs to fit on the page.
Using different typefaces to differentiate between menu item names and descriptions can be a useful tool to help customers navigate the menu easily. This technique can also add visual interest to the menu, making it more engaging and memorable for the customers. High-end restaurants are known for using a combination of serif and script fonts, in unique designs, to convey a sense of class, luxury, and exclusivity.
5. Choose the right colors
The significance pf color branding is an established fact- so be sure to choose the right colors for your restaurant’s menu design as it can affect the customer’s perception of the mood and ambience of the restaurant. It’s crucial to consider the target audience and the theme of the restaurant when selecting colors. Different colors can evoke different emotions and associations in a viewer, so it’s important to use them thoughtfully.
High-end restaurants, for instance, have a near zero chance of featuring bright, neon colors or supposed cool designs on their menu or other branding elements. Given that they are selling an experience of sophisticated fine dining, loud colors are likely to oppose their brand image. Such restaurants are usually known to play around with neutral tones like white, beige, grey, or even deep reds, dark blues or the classic black. Their menus, too, are designed on similar color schemes to exude elegance and refinement.
A restaurant’s menu design is important for business purposes because it can affect the perceived value of the food, the ease of decision-making for the customer, increase sales, enhance the brand image of the restaurant, and consequently impact the overall revenue of the restaurant. Additionally, a menu that is visually appealing and easy to read can make the dining experience more enjoyable for the customer and increase the likelihood of repeat business. For these reasons, having a creative menu design is fundamental for restaurants at the time.
Digital Polo is a full-service graphic design agency, with years of experience in creating unique designs for a number of print and digital media. Get in touch with us for an exclusive menu design that is as tasteful as the items listed on it.