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How To Design Your Menu

Designing a menu is a personal thing in all honesty, you choose how it looks, what is on it and how it is presented to your customers.

However, there are a few things you need to consider when designing the menu for your restaurant. If you do have a badly designed menu then your customers will think your restaurant is poorly managed.

It is true, first impressions are the main factor potential customers consider when judging your restaurant, so you need to make sure that the one you give is great!

Your menu is a major part of the impression you give out, so here are a few things you should consider designing a menu.

Keep the colour scheme appealing

By this I mean don't cram your menu design with garish, bright and contrasting colours, this will be off-putting for your customers and will cause them to not read your menu properly.

If your restaurant decor is mainly bright, garish, and contrasting colours (please say it isn't!), then you must use them as part of your branding in moderation. Consider using them as a border or headings in different colours, but make sure they don't distract your customers' eyes from what you want them to see - your products!

Don't go overboard with pictures

You don't need to pile lots and lots of pictures into your menu, a few for illustrative purposes is more than sufficient. If you do put lots of pictures into your menu design then again, you will only annoy your customers as the things they want to look at will be small and less visible.

A good place to consider using your pictures is along the top or the bottom of your menu, as a border. If you are going to place pictures within the text of your menu I recommend using no more than 3-4 medium sized pictures per page.

Keep it short, sharp and sweet

When designing a menu think about your customers, you may want to add lots of 'flowery' and over-descriptive text in your menu to make it sound more interesting.

This really isn't needed, your customers will just want to know what the dish is called, what is in it, how it is cooked and how much it costs! It's that simple.

There's nothing wrong with making things interesting, but always bear in mind how your customers will see your menu.

Don't hide anything

The last thing you should do is not include information on your menu. If people have to order a sauce separately - tell them! Don't wait until you take their meal out for your customer to ask, this will just cause you problems.

The same applies to pricing, if items cost more or there is a supplement charge on some item - show this!

If you simply add it to the bill, your customers will certainly not be happy and the chances are they'll not return and tell their friends you ripped them off!

Inform people about allergens in your dishes

If any of your dishes contain items that your customers may be allergic to then you MUST make it clear on your menu.

Don't have too much on your menu

If you have a large menu, your customers may feel over-powered with choices and therefore a bit uncomfortable.

A trick here is to have a separate dessert menu and/or specials menu. This way you are not forcing too much on your customers and they can concentrate on enjoying themselves.

Advertising the items you want to sell more of

If you have items that you want to sell more of then, when designing a menu, you should use the following tricks. Place the desired item in the top section of the menu, this way your customers will notice it first.

Think about a newspaper, they place the important news and headlines at the top of the page, because this is where the reader's eyes are drawn to first.

The same applies to your menu, your customers will automatically look at the top of your menu, so this is where you need to place your 'hot' items. Another way of attracting your customers' eyes is to make the items you want to sell more of bolder, or in a larger font.

Try it, you'll sell more of your 'hot' items.

Remember that your menu is your main advertising tool

This is important for your business, your menu is your number one tool for making money, a very high percentage of your customers will continue to read your menu after you have taken their order, unless your staff take it away.

Take this opportunity to think about what promotional information you want your customers to see.

Do you have an early bird offer?

Do you have theme nights?

Do you have a discount available for large parties?

Whatever promotions you have running, think about including them on your menu. A good place for this is on the back of your menu, you may find this strange, but the majority of your customers will look at the back of your menu, it is instinct! One other thing to mention is PUT YOUR CONTACT DETAILS ON YOUR MENU.

Whatever type of restaurant you have you need to have a well-designed and attractive menu, try some of the things we have talked about and you'll start noticing the difference soon.


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