8 Essential Menu Design Tips

Proven tips and hacks that will make you rethink menu design.

Written by
Rachel Yeo
April 22, 2021

Are you designing a menu for your restaurant, café, bar or pub? If so, there’s much more to effective menu design than meets the eye.

To give you a hand, we’ve rounded up 8 expert design tips that have been proven to influence consumer behaviour. Check them out below!

1. Visual Hierarchy

Having a visual hierarchy on your menu allows customers to instantly distinguish your food offerings and different menus. It’s also a terrific way to emphasise more important and profitable menu items – through the use of striking design elements like boxes, lines and colour. For example, seasonal menu items can be highlighted with illustrations and bold font.

2. Strategic Use of White Space

When it comes to composing your menu, never underestimate the power of white space! Research has shown that the strategic use of white space improves legibility and can increase reader comprehension up to 20%. Truthfully, there’s nothing worse than a cluttered menu – so if you’re feeling the pressure to cram in all your menu items into one page, don’t!

3. Consider Eye Movement Patterns

One of the secrets to engineering a good menu is to consider the ‘golden triangle’ of eye movement patterns. As explained in a 2005 eye tracking study, humans are typically drawn to the middle of the page – before gravitating towards content in the top right, followed by the top left of a page. As such, it may be good to practise this theory when you design your menu.

4. Use Good Quality Photography

This is a no-brainer, but not nearly enough menus include high-quality photos in their menu design. These aid your customers in decision-making and make them more compelled to buy items you may be trying to push. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

5. Proofread Your Menu Over And Over

Staring at your own menu design for extended periods of time can make you less inclined to spot those pesky typos. However, having a customer spot a spelling mistake or grammatical error in your menu may detract from the professionalism of your brand. So before you publish and share your menu, make sure to get your entire team to approve it. Sometimes, it just takes a fresh set of eyes to pick up details you may have overlooked.

6. Ditch The Dollar Sign

Fascinatingly, a Cornell study has revealed that customers who ordered from a menu without dollar signs spent an average of $5.50 (about 8%) more. Published in the International Journal of Hospitality Management, the study speculated that the presence of dollar symbols in a menu reminded customers of the ‘pain of paying’ – making them more deterred to opt for more expensive menu items.

7. Keep The Options Limited

While it’s wonderful to offer your customers variety, too many menu choices can be confusing. This is because we tend to feel more anxiety with more options, according to the psychological theory of the ‘paradox of choice’. Once each section exceeds more than 7 menu items, we are more likely to be overwhelmed and pick a dish we’ve tried before. By limiting your menu items to dishes you know your customers will love, you might in fact tempt them to try something new!

Introducing Menuzen – Your Free Online Menu Creator

Why not let Menuzen do the hard lifting for you?

Take advantage of our free menu design templates – which are naturally optimised to take these simple design rules into considerations. Not only do our menu maker tools help you to create and design elegant looking menus, but Menuzen also takes the hassle out of menu management.

The real point of difference is our live cloud-based software, which ensures that all menu changes update immediately across your menus.

Try Menuzen for free and begin designing your menu!

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