Designing an Effective Restaurant Menu
An effective restaurant menu design requires a mix of elements that go beyond colors, font, and layout. Effective menus avoid long wordy descriptions, unclear layouts, and designs that are not on-brand with the rest of your restaurant’s atmosphere and presentation on and offline. It also takes into consideration the cost of each dish and the time it will take to prepare them.
Begin with the content. Before even thinking about the look of your menu. Start by listing all the dishes you will offer taking into consideration the ingredients’ cost and preparation times. These choices will vary based on the type of restaurant you own or run. Do not create dishes that will take thirty minutes to prepare if you are running a fast-food restaurant.
Once you have all the dishes listed begin breaking them into categories or sections. The categories will be more or less the same for the type of restaurant that you are running. This part of the design process is best done in a spreadsheet or word-processing software so that you focus solely on the content.
During this step, considering the pricing of your dishes is key because this will play a main role in the profitability of your restaurant. The descriptions for each dish are also paramount. They should match your restaurant’s brand and should be attractive and inviting to the customer.
Once you have finalized all the content for your menu, you can begin the layout process for all this information. The layout should also reflect your restaurant’s brand and ambiance. It should be an extension of the restaurant in terms of design. These are some important elements that should be cohesive between your brand and your menu:
- Color Scheme:
- Voice/Tone: the text should reflect your restaurant’s brand and style, for instance, the language of your menu will be different if you are running a high-end gourmet restaurant or a farm to table family-style restaurant. Each type requires a different voice.
- Presentation: this refers to the final details, the type of paper you print the menu on, do you put it in plastic, metal or leather folder? Etc.
As previously mentioned, the descriptions for each of your dishes will be very important in getting the customer to make that final decision. They should be vivid and attractive without confusing the customer. They should describe exactly what is in the dish. This is also a good place to highlight where your ingredients’ come from if they are organic, local, gluten-free, kosher, halal, etc.
Photographs of your dishes can be a great asset (especially online) to quickly communicate to the customer what the dish is, but they must be used strategically. You have a limited amount of space on a print menu. So, you need to maintain a balance between text and images, so that the customer is not left wondering what is in the dish or what the ingredients are. Other effective types of graphic communications for your menu could be:
- Typography Designs
- Videos (Online)
As you can tell by now, designing your restaurant menu is a very important step in your restaurant business plan. It takes more than colors, and fonts to design an effective restaurant menu.