Good menu design = a better bottom line


Menus that make the customer work too hard for their supper are high up on our list of pet peeves. How often have you had to ask a server to give you more time while you balance trying to wade through lengthy descriptions and hard to read text with loud background noise and low lighting? Not to mention trying to say hello to the person you’re actually there to see and have dinner with?

brennan and stevens, restaurant design

 A well-executed menu is manageable for every restaurant and is an important consideration for your business. Your menu has been given the enormous task of selling your product. It needs to be one of the most accessible things in your entire restaurant. And yet, it is often given very little thought or crowded with so much information that your customer would sooner not read it at all and opts for the first item they glance at. 

As specialists in the hospitality industry menu engineering and design is something we are familiar with. Our aim as designers is split 50/50 between making sure the customer has a good experience and making sure the client is making good profit margins. We adopt a lot of techniques to hit these two targets but you can make an improvement to your own menu design today by introducing a few techniques.

Implementing design techniques delivers as much as a 12% increase in profit margins

So to start; Don’t box it all up:
Limit the use of bounding boxes and blocks. If you highlight every section no section will feel prioritised. Similarly boxing off a dish and giving it a new style because you want to push it can often have the reverse effect. Our brains ignore it because it looks so different from the rest of the listing. Or we skim by it because we assume it is page decoration and not part of the decision process.

Pay attention to the basics:
Allowing enough white space on your page, limiting the line length of your columns and adopting a clear open typeface all make the ordering process easier. And also speeds up the ordering time, important for restaurants that needs to allow for multiple sittings.

brennan and stevens, restaurant design

Being aware of customer behaviour will tell you where you need to make improvements and get the dishes you want to sell onto the table.

What are your star dishes? Put them in prime position:
It is generally believed the second item on a list and the last two items on the list are best for catching the eye and sell well.

Where does price fit in? 
Positioning prices in a rag next to the item rather than right-aligning them help customers choose on taste rather than by price, where the eye skims the prices and only reads the ones at a lower price point. Similarly, removing the euro sign from the price altogether encourages a higher spend. 

brennan and stevens, restaurant design

Seeing red:
Our brains equate the colour red with taste and appetite and that’s why it’s used so much in menu design. But if the lighting is low or you use coloured filters red can disappear from the page entirely so make sure you don’t use it for key information. 

Keep an eye out:
Finally, watch how your customer uses the menu. Are they straining their eyes and holding the menu up to the candlelight? Are they sending the server away two or three times before ordering? Are they asking a lot of questions when they place their order? Are they even bothering to read it at all? Being aware of customer behaviour will tell you where you need to make improvements and get the dishes you want to sell onto the table. 

Interested in more ideas on how to get your product selling? Meet us for a coffee. Email to set up a consultation.