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10 Tips for Designing a Restaurant Menu

Oct 19, 2019

Your restaurant’s menu is one of the most important pieces of your branding. A great menu design can entice consumers with higher ticket items, and get them hungry for their incoming meal. A confusing or poorly designed menu can lead to agitation, and wasted time with consumers asking for clarification. 

The design speaks to your brand, and a great layout to your menu helps customers every step of the way. Presentation, fonts, colors, and overall design can speak to your target market, and help make the dining experience a positive one. If the menu is clear and easy, the ordering process will be, too!

 Unless you have a background in design, creating your menu might seem like a daunting task. With tips and templates, it doesn’t have to be!

Here are 10 tips for designing your restaurant’s menu.

1. Your Menu is Part of Your Brand

As with any piece of branding, it’s important to remember who it is for. Who are you trying to attract? What will this customer expect? How can you show them that your restaurant is the perfect choice for them? Will they like the touch of a paper menu, or would they prefer modern, digital signage?

A small-town diner menu will look vastly different from an upscale city restaurant menu, for example. Consumers might expect more bold, retro fonts and colors for diners. Those who choose an upscale restaurant will probably expect something simplistic and classic. 

Of course, there are many other types of restaurants, and no two brands are the same. Decide what your overall brand means to customers, and keep that dream customer in mind as you move forward.

2. Keep Colors Simple for Customer Ease and Satisfaction

Simple colors that are easy to read ensure a more positive experience for the consumer. Having a menu that’s hard to read can be frustrating for consumers. Confusion and frustration trickle down to your staff, too, taking time and sometimes tips from them. 

Make sure your font color stands out from the background, and have people of different ages try to read it before you press print or put it up on your screen. Brand colors are important to keep in mind, but sometimes it’s better to have a pop than something over the top. Consider using a white or light background and black lettering, and save your brand colors for bold headlines, borders, and your logo. 

3. Hard to read fonts = Unhappy Customers + Unhappy Staff

Just like with colors, easily read fonts make the dining experience more seamless. If the font is too busy or hard to read, it can confuse or frustrate the consumer. This may cause them to ask the server questions, or simply agitate their restaurant experience. 

Aside from ease of reading, it’s important to keep your brand in mind when selecting fonts. Is your brand retro, or modern, or farm-to-table? What sort of fonts blend well with these aesthetics? 

If you’re unsure, it can be useful to look at other business types with the same aesthetic as your restaurant. What fonts do they use on their website? Their fliers? Make notes, and select your favorites.

4. Save Ordering Time with Organized Boxes and Dividers

A well-organized menu can help the consumer, and your staff, save time. Separate your categories in a simple, clean way. You can use dividers, or boxes around your specific categories, such as appetizers and entrées. This is another area where your brand colors can come into play!

5. Simple Design, Simple Ordering

It’s best to keep things simple for fast and easy ordering. Overly busy designs or backgrounds may be distracting. When using graphics, make sure they are orderly and helpful, and not distracting. The swirl of coffee steam or a photograph of your most beautiful cupcakes can be enticing. Place specific photos in non-distracting areas to draw the customer in, without taking them away from the ordering process. 

6. Use Mouth Watering Descriptions 

Well-described items make the customer eager to order. Use an adjective here and there when listing the ingredients for your menu item. Tempt consumers with each word, but keep it short. Find a way to make their mouth water when going over their options! 

7. Avoid Price Searching by not Using Columns  

We’ve all done it at one time or another. We go out with friends or family and scan for the cheapest item. This can be done no matter what, but a list of numbers in a column makes it all too easy. Attract customers to the food, not the price! 

8. Clearly Mark Alternative Diet Options

Having clearly marked, alternative diet options will make things easier for the consumer, and save your staff some time. Nothing hinders a dinner rush like customers not knowing if something is vegan or gluten-free.

It’s important to note if your options come into contact with what people are trying to avoid. Make this clear on the menu as well, if there is shared equipment. You wouldn’t want consumers having an allergic reaction!

Clearly marked items give consumers with alternative diets confidence in their order. They’ll be more likely to recommend your restaurant to others with the same diet restrictions, too! 

9. Keep Your Menus Fresh and Modern with Digital Signage 

As the main consumer generation shifts, so will their expectations. Digital Signage is modern and can be eye-catching for consumers. The display can often be easier to read, too. Imagine making menu changes without having to reprint your whole menu collection! Raydiant can help you with any questions that you may have about Digital Signage options. Raydiant has also partnered with SinglePlatform, so when you update your menus in-store, they can also update on services like GrubHub, UberEats, DoorDash, and more!

10. Make Menu Design Easy with Templates 

In today’s world, it’s easy to find outside resources for design. Outsourcing to a professional designer is one choice. They can work with you to design something that fits your brand. However, hiring a designer can be expensive. 

If you’re ready to tackle this on your own, there templates available for use! Templates can help you design your restaurant’s menu, providing you with layout options if you’re unfamiliar with design. Raydiant provides these templates to clients, no designer needed! Raydiant also offers PosterMyWall. PosterMyWall is a service that allows you to design menus with stock photos and videos and a simple drag-and-drop interface, making the process easy.

There you have it! 10 tips to help you design your restaurants menu. With each step and each decision, don’t forget to keep your target market in mind. Attract them with your brand, and keep them coming back with your overall experience. 

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