There are many things you need to think about when starting a restaurant, including equipment and tools acquisition, vendor search, logistics, and location.

Aside from these, the menu is also crucial to the success of any food business. After all, it carries your restaurant’s entire product line and serves as a way to showcase what makes your restaurant unique.

But there’s more to creating an effective menu than adding a list of all the food and beverages you offer. How you present it also matters.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of things you need to keep in mind to create a menu design that is most effective in the era of online ordering and takeout.

Why is Menu Design Important?

Aside from being a critical part of the efficient operations of your restaurant, the menu also serves as a key component of your business branding.

It should reflect not only your offerings but also the restaurant’s brand identity. And, of course, it needs to be appealing to the target market, eye-catching, and easy to read.

6 Tips in Designing Your Restaurant Menu

Whatever type of food business you have, you need a menu that will be helpful not only for dine-in but also for takeout and online orders.

In this era where more people are turning to the Internet for almost anything and everything, your restaurant must keep up with a menu design that is most effective in reaching your audience while staying in line with your brand strategy.

To help you out, here are six tips you can use when designing your restaurant menu:

1. Get the personality right.

You’ve already put in a lot of effort in coming up with a logo, color palette, typeface, and an entire brand image, so why not use these in your menu?

Besides making sure that your brand identity is reflected in the interior design, you should also use these elements in your menu to show who you are.

Since the menu is crucial in your restaurant branding, it would be wise to follow the look and overall feel you want people to get when visiting your restaurant. In short, it should look like it truly belongs to your restaurant, and not some copycat that has the exact-same offerings.

Think of it like this: People who visit your restaurant all the time find out that you are now taking orders online. However, your website or mobile app menu looks nothing like the physical establishment they’ve grown to know and love. Confused, they won’t order from the online platforms, which will make your investment in the new channels a waste.

2. Keep it concise and scannable.

Whether it’s an online menu or a printed one, diners spend an average of 109 seconds reading it. Within this short time, you need to make an impression and help them find the dish they want.

To make every one of those few seconds count, you need to:

  • Use clear and concise section headings.
  • Place and design dish titles so that they are easy to find.
  • Put decorative elements like frames and images to draw attention to your specialty dishes (or those you want to promote.

3. Be smart about the layout.

In the past, restaurant menus were designed around the notion that the customers’ eyes will be naturally drawn to a so-called “sweet spot” on the top right-hand corner of the menu.

With this assumption, high-profit menu items are placed in that spot in the hopes of boosting sales for that particular item.

However, newer studies state that you have a better chance that customers will read the menu like they would a book – from the top, going left to right of each row, down to the bottom.

This means diners will spend most of their time looking at the first and last items on the menu, which explains why those two items usually have the biggest sales.

Decorative elements, called “eye magnets,” can also encourage customers to consider dishes you want them to order. But for maximum efficacy, use this technique sparingly.

You can’t highlight everything, too. Stick to one per section or category in your menu.

4. Capitalize on the psychology of color.

The psychology of color explains how people subconsciously respond to different hues in various ways. In the food industry, red and blue are the most popular choices because these enhance people’s appetite.

Of course, other colors can be used, too. Just remember to think about your color palette more carefully and consider how it relates to the type of restaurant you’re running.

For example, seafood restaurants usually have blue elements in their menus because the color makes people think of fresh catches from the sea. For garden cafes, green is the dominant hue for similar reasons.

You can also create a hierarchy in the menu using different hues to make it more scannable.

5. Be selective of photos.

Although pictures are considered eye magnets, putting too many on your menu could be counterproductive.

One picture per page is enough to increase sales by as much as 30 percent. However, doubling the number of images will divide instead of multiply this effect.

Be wise when adding photographs. Choose those that are most mouthwatering and enticing. Play up colors, textures, and even the “smell” of a delicious dish.

You can also use illustrations or graphics to make the menu look more appealing. This tactic is more common in high-end restaurants.

6. Bring it online.

Since more people are now ordering their food online, you need to step up your Internet game to reach those customers.

If you’ve already come up with a delivery solution, then you’re already halfway there. You just need to get a home run by establishing a channel where people can order from. This is where online menus and takeout platforms come in.

When building your website or mobile ordering app, you must remember to be unique. Bring your identity forward with a customized design and a complete set of convenient and secure features that will convince people to order from you.

Take Your Restaurant to the Next Level

The era of online ordering and takeout calls for a menu design that reflects your brand identity. 

Not sure how to do it? Ask our experts at Yellow Branding for your brand strategy and design needs.