One of the least considered elements of a new business is menu design. Whether your starting a coffee shop or a fine dining restaurant menu design will impact the way customers engage with your business. Menus are one of the first marketing elements customers come in contact with and significantly impact purchasing decisions. Recently, I have even told clients that menus can act as a contract of sorts and serve the purpose of setting rules and guidelines for your business. In relation to marketing, menus can be one of the most time-consuming elements to design and for good reason. How much time and thought is put into crafting a menu will directly correlate with the success of a business.

Menu Design Impacts Customer Engagement

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it (with better type).

Visual Flow

Good menu design renders visual flow by guiding the eye path and creating a layout that is structured and highlights important information with a clear hierarchy.

Legibility

A good menu designer considers optimized readability and improves legibility by utilizing dynamic typefaces, creating adequate contrast, and using grid systems.

Good Copy

Menu designers consider design principles but they also spend just as much time crafting the words. Well-written descriptions improves overall menu appeal.

Well-Designed Menu are Brand Ambassadors

Why should you consider professional menu design?.

Send The Right Message

The first thing menus do is set the tone for your business and how it will interact with customers. How playful or serious the design is will glean a lot about the overall vision for the restaurant. Underneath it all, principles like color theory, typography, and graphic design layout will serve the purpose of guiding the flow of attention or eye flow. In other words,  how a menu is designed can dictate which elements or menu items customers see first and consequently manipulate the whole experience. Understanding how to leverage this insight you can focus on encouraging customers to purchase products with higher mark up or optimal sell-ability.

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Menus Organize Business

The Next Thing menus do is organize the way you sell products or services to clients. Creating a menu that allows the reader to gloss over sections and focus on their topic of interest allows your menu to create a better experience for your customer. One of the most effective qualities of this arrangement is the idea that the reader will be able to read all of the most important things and take away the essence of what your business is about. For example, I created a brochure for an auto detail service and I put together three different sections as it relates to their service. Creating a proper hierarchy and using good typography I was able to make it easy for a reader to quickly understand the different over-arching services even if they didn’t read every feature included in that service. The ability to summarize concepts in a way that is inclusive, legible, and streamlined is what separates great menu design from mediocre.

Make The Rules

Another important aspect of great menu design is that it allows you to create rules or guidelines. A good menu outlines the products/services and also describes them but a great one takes it a step further and creates much-needed rules appropriately. There are many instances when a specific clause is needed or a line must be drawn and menus are perfect because they are the perfect communication channel. For example, in Mexican restaurant customers will go and eat chips and not buy much so we added a clause that dictates the price and states that every table receives only one basket of chips to deter folks from taking advantage of the free chips. There are many different situations where these clauses have saved companies hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year and it’s part of the reason menus practically pay for themselves.

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Menus, Shmenus

Lastly, you don’t necessarily need to be running a restaurant to create a menu or brochure for customers to look at. Every industry has some form of graphic representation of services or products offered. The most important take-away is to create some graphic representation of your offerings and how you plan to render these items (whether they are physical or metaphorical). Presenting what you have to sell with a graphic representation not only drives more sales but it makes your company appear more professional.

web-designer-in-arcata-ca-humboldt-county-californiaAbout the author: Miguel Garcia is the creative director at 960 Design, a California-based web hosting company that provides comprehensive solutions to internet users around the world. Garcia draws on more than 20 years of technical experience, a degree in computer science, and a combination of work experience as an IT Consultant, Restaurant Manager, Graphic Designer, and Entrepreneur — to write about tech, business, and integrated marketing including digital, print, and traditional platforms for the 960 Design news archive.