Six Steps to Success in Menu Design

At MustHaveMenus, we’re in business to help you grow your business. And that starts with great menu design. Since it’s back to school time, we thought we’d revisit what makes a great menu for your restaurant.

Here are six basic steps for success in menu design or redesign.

fine dining food menuDetermine your look.

  • Do you have an existing logo or brand? If not, you’ll need a look that says what you do and who you serve.
  • Are you upscale, casual, family-friendly or modern? Pinpoint your look by describing it in a word or two.
  • What look doesn’t appeal to you? Hard to read fonts? No white space? Look at lots of restaurant menus to see what you do and don’t like and take a few notes.

Determine how your customers will use your menu.

Your customers will use your menu to make a decision about what to eat at your restaurant. But it goes much deeper than that. Your restaurant menu should be easy to read, clear and organized.

The customer should be able to:

  • Find your name and contact info
  • Find general categories of dishes (appetizers, main entrees, sides, desserts, drinks)
  • See the menu in all lights – watch too tiny fonts, light colors and hard-to-read swirly letters.
  • Focus on your offerings – When you have too much text, too many options or too many graphics (photos, clipart, etc.), it can be like looking at map and not knowing where to start. Be organized and critical in your menu formatting.

menu on facebookDoes your menu work on Facebook and online?

Another consideration is the digital version(s) of your menu. More and more diners are looking to Facebook and online for restaurant menus before they call in that takeout order or issue a lunch date request. Your menu should look as good online as it does on your counter or table tops.

Determine how your menu will be handled.

At least once a year, a study or article comes out citing how dirty restaurant menus are. That should be a consideration in your menu design. Will you laminate it or print fresh paper menus each week? Will you put your menu in a menu cover?

These simple questions will help you avoid problems with layout and help you determine exactly what space you have in your menu design.

todays menuDo you need supplemental menus?

This depends on your offerings. If you have the same menu year-round, you can probably get by with a single restaurant menu or café menu. If you want to entertain the kids and separate their offerings, a kid’s menu may be a good option. If you offer specials at the bar or a rotating soup or dessert menu, you may have a need for a few different menus.

Separating your menus has both pros and cons, but it can help you in two ways – drive more interest and keep the main menu clean and attractive.

See this recent MustHaveMenus blog article on the six menus every restaurant needs for a look at why separating your menus can drive sales.

menu design setsCould you benefit from a central look?

One of the strongest branding tools is to get a base look such as a menu design set. This piece will have coordinating menus and promo materials that can tie everything together. This is especially helpful in restaurants with seasonal or different menus at lunch and dinner.

Take a look at our menu design sets to see how you can create a streamlined, branded look for all of your restaurant marketing materials – everything from the lunch menu to the daily specials to your comment and business cards.

We hope this article helped you answer a few questions about your menu and how important design is to helping your customers make decisions and for driving more sales.

Get access to more than 3,000 designer menu templates, online software and publish your menus directly to Facebook for just $29/month.