What you need to know about restaurant menu design in 2023

What You Need to Know About Restaurant Menu Design in 2023

What You Need to Know About Restaurant Menu Design in 2023

Have you ever been to a restaurant and received a menu that's nearly impossible to read? It can be tough to pinpoint why it feels like such a challenge, but the reality is that poor design choices can frustrate readers when it comes time to order. And that's not great for business.

Numerous factors impact how guests interact with menus — from font choice to dish names, pictures, icons, spacing, and everything in between — seemingly minor design choices can have a big impact. And while poor design choices can do more harm than good, successful restaurant owners understand that the right menu design can boost your bottom line. 

Menus are powerful marketing tools — they can lead customers to make the exact orders you want them to make, entice customers to spend more money, or even speed up the ordering process with the integration of QR codes. If you plan to upgrade your menu this year, here's what you need to know about restaurant menu design in 2023.

Keep it simple

Customers appreciate a clear and concise menu that is easy to navigate, especially if you can group items by category and integrate clear headings. Keep the design uncluttered, and avoid overwhelming your customers with too many options. This can also help you cut down on food and inventory costs, especially when paired with a restaurant point of sale system that has an inventory management function. 

Consider digital menus

With the rise of digital ordering during and after COVIDany people enjoy the speed and convenience of online menus. If your restaurant is equipped with the right software, consider creating a digital version of your menu that customers can access on their phones or tablets via QR code or your restaurant website. This can make ordering easier and more efficient for your customers, and may also allow you to update your menu more frequently.

Highlight your signature dishes

Your menu should reflect the brand and feel of your restaurant. When designing your restaurant menu, be sure to showcase your restaurant's strengths and unique offerings. Use bold fonts or graphics to draw attention to your signature dishes and make them stand out. This way, customers can be confident they're getting something delicious without having to spend too much time analyzing your menu.

Leverage sales data

Using your restaurant POS reporting for specific item level sales can also help you make informed decisions what to feature on your menu. By analyzing the data on which items are your best sellers, you can adjust your menu accordingly. For example, if you find that a particular dish is continues to perform well, you might consider promoting it more prominently on the menu or adding variations to it. 

On the other hand, if a menu item is consistently underperforming, you may want to consider removing it from the menu or modifying it to make it more appealing to customers.

Color and Font

Believe it or not, color and font play a crucial role in restaurant menu design, as they can affect customers' emotions and perceptions. For example, green is often associated with vegetables and freshness. On the other hand, a color like blue can make customers think of the ocean and would be suitable for a seafood restaurant. Typography and color are complex decisions best left up to a designer, but it's important for restaurant owners to think about how colors and fonts align with their restaurant's story, brand, theme, and desired perception.

Pay attention to pricing

The numbers you use and the placement of prices on a menu can also influence customer choices and potentially increase sales. If you're designing a restaurant menu in 2023, consider using pricing strategies like removing the dollar sign, rounding prices, or using "charm prices" (e.g., $9.99 instead of $10) to encourage customers to spend more. There's no guarantee that anyone will have a massive impact on your bottom line, but by playing around with different options and evaluating results, you can test and determine what's best for your menu.

Keep pricing transparent

There's nothing worse than getting hit with surprise charges when it comes time to pay. No matter what style of restaurant you operate, customers always appreciate transparency when it comes to pricing. Make sure to clearly display prices for all items on your menu, and avoid hiding prices or using confusing pricing structures like tiered pricing or too many add-ons.

Menu psychology

Understanding the psychology behind menu design can help you create menus that appeal to customers' emotions and desires. If you want to elevate your menu and dining experience, consider using menu psychology techniques like: 

  • Sensory words. Words like "crispy" or "savory" can make dishes sound more enticing and make the menu more engaging for customers. 

  • The golden triangle. When most people look at a menu, they start in the middle, then look in the top right, followed by the top left. This is called the "Golden Triangle," and it's prime real estate for your high-value or most profitable dishes.

  • Ordering your lists. Most customers tend to order from the top or bottom two options in a list of menu items. Reorganize the order of your dishes so that the top items you want to sell are in the first couple spots. 

The Bottom Line

In conjunction with a memorable brand, great food, and amazing service, effective restaurant menu design can help add to your customer experience and leave a lasting impression on visitors, encouraging them to return time and time again.

With so many factors influencing customer perceptions and behavior when visiting a restaurant, it's important for restaurant owners to be intentional about every aspect of their menu. A simple design with transparent pricing, good organization, and a few sensory words sprinkled in will go a long way. But if you want to go a step further, consider investing in a robust point of sale system like RPOWER which offers features like digital menus, menu optimization, inventory tracking, and more.

If you need help evaluating your needs and finding the right POS, we’ve created this free buyer’s guide to help you determine which solutions are best and how you can leverage a restaurant POS to grow your business.

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