Your restaurant’s menu is one of the first things your diners will interact with, sometimes even before a server or cashier and always before the food. This is why it’s crucial to ensure that your menu makes a stellar first impression.

Your restaurant’s menu is more than just a list of dishes you serve, In fact, it’s an advertising tool capable of communicating your restaurant’s identity and driving profits—if you design it well.

A menu with bad photos, too many items, or incongruous design, or poor wording will detract from your guests’ experience. This puts pressure on your food and service to make up for it.

Restaurant Menu

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On the other hand, an appealing, well-written menu that fits with your brand will make your diners feel like they’ve chosen the right restaurant to dine in.

A thoughtfully designed menu has the power to generate a significant amount of profits. For instance, it will focus on the profitable menu items and leave a lasting impression on the diners.

While designing a restaurant menu seems like fun and games, there’s more to it than meets the eye. You need to analyze the popularity and profitability of your menu’s items through menu engineering analysis. Once you have the data, take it to your advantage and design the menu effectively.

These 5 restaurant menu design tips and ideas will help you decide how your menu should look.

1. Use White Spaces

Did you know the human eye hates clutter? Studies show that good use of white space improves reader comprehension by 30%.

Use ample white spaces throughout your menu to ensure that the diner can read the items without getting frustrated. This also prevents your guests from feeling overwhelmed.

Keep the menu curated and short. Limit 4-5 items per section and ensure that all your items are unique and no items are stepping on the toes of another.

2. Bid Goodbye to Dollar Signs

A study at Cornell found that guests who ordered from menus without the dollar sign spent a lot more than those who ordered from traditional menus.

Your guests already know the meaning of the numbers next to the menu items mean. Dollar signs trigger negative associations about splurging money. Therefore, it’s wise to skip using them altogether.

3. Use Colour and Boxes for Visual Direction

Colorful Menu

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Highlight all the menu items that are better (and profitable!) guide your guests through the menu using design elements that help your best items shine.

Shine the spotlight on items that you want your diners to be looking at. It’s recommended that you hire an artist or a graphic designer to create such a menu.

If your budget allows, hire a menu design professional. They will help you design your menu in accordance with your brand’s image and the menu engineering data that you have. They expertly use lines, illustrations, and color to draw diners’ attention to your Star menu items (high popularity, high profit) and Puzzles (low popularity, high profit).

4. Harness The Power of Words

Use items descriptions to communicate the taste of the dishes. Words such as “crisp”. “Buttery”, and “savory” evoke a reaction of hunger. Use descriptions to convey the love you put into creating every dish and your restaurant’s personality.

An experiment at Cornell University found that descriptive menu labels increase sales of an item by 27%. This also resulted in diners feeling more satisfied with their meals. This also led to more favorable feedbacks when the items lived up to their glowing descriptions.

5. Use Photos

Studies have shown that an attractive photo next to that food item increases its sales by 30%. However, this doesn’t mean you fill your menu card with photos or use mediocre photos.

Remember, it’s better to have no photos than have bad photos.

Printing photos on menus is costly, making it another reason for you to add them sparingly. Use a handful of high-quality photos to promote your most profitable items.

If you’re not including photos in your menu, you can add a call-to-action in the menu to check photos on your social media handles. For instance, you can add a bit.ly link or a QR code and write “check out our Instagram account to preview our dishes!”

The Takeaway

When creating your restaurant menu, you want to ensure that it’s legible and usable for all your diners.

The menu’s size should be manageable, the font should be easy-to-read, and should be limited to a few pages. Hire a professional to help you design a menu strategically that boosts profits.

Once you have designed the physical menu, optimize your online menu on your website or ordering system to stay consistent. This prevents the diner from getting confused.

Restaurant Menu


Featured Image Credits: Pixabay

Shristi Patni

Shristi Patni

Content Writer

Shristi is a content writer and owner of F and B Recipes. When not writing, she can be found reading or trying new recipes.