5 Stellar Menu Design Hacks

5 Stellar Menu Design Hacks
July 2, 2020 Georgina Quach
menu header image for online ordering

Even if your customers are ordering from you on a mobile, having a beautifully designed menu is key to increasing your revenue. Whether you’re using takeaway or table ordering software, think of your menu as part of your restaurant or pub. It’s like the interior of your venue! And therefore, it’s just as important to your ambience. 

Menus are also important from the perspective of marketing psychology. How you present the items on your menu will determine which items customers are more likely to choose, so we have direct influence over what will sell. Finally, they’re important for customers to have access tool as an assessment tool – do they want to eat here? So to make your menu work as hard as you do, you need to sit down and think carefully about the design.

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We’ve sought expert opinions and analysis for our top five menu design tips below. 

1. Longer isn’t necessarily better

Diners often scan menus quickly (spending an average of just 109 seconds, according to a Gallup poll). Therefore, the more items you have on your menu, the more difficult it is for customers to take in. Chefs like Gordon Ramsey regularly criticise smaller restaurants for over-complicated menus – so if in doubt, keep it nice and short. 

Some restaurants will organise their menu around a process as a way of inviting their patrons to make a series of decision points about their meal. For example: (A) add your main / (B) add your side / (C) add your topping… etcetera. You’re sure to have seen menus which work like this. It does two things really well: it simplifies the menus into a few easy choices, rather than one big bamboozling one… and it presents the customer with a series of decisions about your food in such a way that they have to keep deciding not to buy the “upsell” version of the product.

At the casual Hawaiian-inspired diner Pokeworks, its Signature Works are meant to guide diners. “It gives customers the opportunity to explore more options for their palates and then come back and try other ones,” cofounder Kevin Hsu tells QSR magazine.

Poke Your Way

Menu – Pokeworks website

Poké, which includes chunks of seafood traditionally served with salt, sesame oil, and other garnishes in a bowl, is a kind of deconstructed sushi. That helps many guests adapt to the concept and create their own dishes, Hsu adds.

2. Present it tidily 

One thing which is common on digital menus is for pubs and restaurants to input ****NOT SURE ABOUT SIZE ASK AT BAR****** or something similar in a text field – a note which is designed to grab the user’s attention  when the proprietor cannot input the information in the exact way he or she would like.

We don’t recommend this. First, a digital menu is just as important in its looks as a physical menu. Hold yourself to the same kind of standard – this will deter orders. Second, Order & Pay has an inbuilt note feature which appears at the top of the menu! Try not to fight the design – work with it!

Finally, too many loud capital letters competing for attention can actually make it less easy to see things, and a large number of asterisked capital letter notes will have the opposite effect than intended. When they were determining the font for British roadsigns, our public transport bodies identified that a mixture of upper and lower case letters are more legible at a glance than capitals. That’s because our eyes take in the shape of the word rather than reading the letter s in a linear way, and Edgware Road has more shape than EDGWARE ROAD. So, there’s no need to shout.

3. Choose colours which go together

Your colour scheme is vital. It should complement your brand and the atmosphere you want to create. It’s also important that you use complementary colours – there’s plenty of online tools to help you determine which colours go well together. 

Just like bold quotes in newspapers, menus also highlight certain items that restaurants want you to order using what industry pros call “eye magnets.” This could mean putting certain items in shaded boxes and fancy borders. Often, if the menu is trying to evoke nostalgia for an old-time classic dish, say a steak and kidney pie, it’ll use a classic embellishment. If you are adding pictures for some foods and not others, remember that the ones with pictures are likely to get more orders. (Unless it’s an ugly picture, of course). 

4. DO use photos

Photos help entice diners who are at home or outside and don’t have all the rich aromas coming from your kitchen. However, the closer to fine dining your establishment is, the better the photos have to be to stay in accordance with the quality of the establishment. Highly produced photos are redolent of chains with marketing teams – like a Harvester or a Beefeater. But there are ways to do excellent photography which do not feel so thoroughly commercial. Check out the Carter’s of Moseley’s Instagram for an incredible display of photography talent – depth, light, and colour have all been used here. 

One specific tip: if you are a pub, avoid uploading a photo of a pint. Beer labels are much better like in our example pub. Many pints look quite similar whereas the labels are works of art; you can always describe the pint’s colour in the description.

Check out our advice for expert restaurant food Instagram photos! As always, StoreKit’s team of store experts are on call to help you with all kinds of EPOS-related questions (for free, of course). Book a call below.

5. Upsell the comfort items

Have your menu spotlight the profitable, comfort-food items, like chips, desserts, beer, coffee, tea and soft drinks. According to Canva, design experts agree that when diners scan a menu, their eyes tend to gravitate first toward the upper right-hand corner of a menu, known in the industry as the “sweet spot.” These are great targets for add-ons, like an extra patty in your burger ;). 

6. Think about pricing

Does 99p pricing actually work? There’s a history behind this. According to one version of events, shop owners priced things at 99p to prevent cashiers from pocketing cash (99p meant the cashier needed to open the register and give back the penny change.)

But we find that the customer psychology behind it is sound. It’s also a great argument for segmenting meals into main plus side plus topping – somebody can rack up a substantial order without having to accept a single big ticket item that they’re buying. 


7. Be Inclusive

Finally, think about what different guests can eat. Are there vegetarian and vegan options? Are there kosher and halal options? Think about how your menu can fit to a wide audience and not leave people feeling left out.

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