The art of menu design

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Simple and beautiful design by Manuel Bortoletti, for Tenuta Veneta in Italy.

An outstanding menu design¬†is almost as important as a restaurant’s decor and food.

It’s that final invitation to diners, encouraging them to sample the amazing treats and drinks your venue has on offer. So how can you make the most of your menu design and entice your customers to come back again and again?

Great menu design by Infinitio in Peru.
Great menu design for La Panka, by Infinitio in Peru.

Draw Them In

Have you ever sat down in a restaurant, found nothing appealing in the menu and decided to go elsewhere? The decor might have been suitable and the reception warm enough, but there was nothing that looked or sounded appealing. If the menu fails to draw people in, some will choose to take their business elsewhere.

However, a creative menu design can go a long way towards attracting customers with the food and drinks your establishment has to offer. The imagery and language won’t just get them to stay, it’ll often encourage them to order more; another appetiser or drink, a dessert and a coffee afterwards.

Bold and eye-catching takeaway menu design by Solopress.
Takeaway menus can also feature bold and stylish design, like these by Solopress.

Choose A Design

Restaurant menus are important marketing collateral. They should be a tangible reflection of the end product you have to offer, whether it’s a burger, a pasta dish or a cocktail.

Of course, menus made of high end materials often signify a fancier selection to choose from, but that isn’t always the case. Likewise, keep in mind when you’re designing your menu that simpler styles don’t always signify cheaper food.

When coming up with a new menu design or a redesign, it’s essential to ensure the look you go with matches your other branding. This should be paralleled in everything from your location’s decor to the uniforms your staff wear and the business cards you distribute. Consistency is key!

Bonedaddy's menu design
Creative and punchy menu design for Bone Daddy’s in Texas, designed by Matchbox.

Suits The Food

During the planning of your menu design and related branding, it’s also a good idea to ensure that it fits with the type of food you serve. Gimmicks like unorthodox presentation materials or using clipboards to distribute menus work better at some establishments than others. Even typography and colour selection depend on the restaurant’s theme and type of food served.

A menu design should leave a lasting impression, helping diners to eagerly anticipate their meals in the space of time between when it’s ordered and when it arrives. The menu should convey what to expect throughout the entire dining experience.

italian menu design
Simple and beautiful design by Manuel Bortoletti, for Tenuta Veneta in Italy.

Elements To Consider

As you’re creating your menu design, there are a few key points you should consider especially. These are:

  • The colours you use throughout the menu. Do they match your branding? Are they appealing to the eye?
  • The fonts chosen for all text. Again, are they branding consistent? Are they easy to read so they won’t discourage diners?
  • The graphics and/or photographs. Will they make diners hungry for you food? Do they clutter or complement the meal and drink descriptions?
  • The language used. Does it suit the type of restaurant you run? Will it ring true with your target clientele? Is it formal, or fun? Conversational, or traditional?
  • The materials chosen. Are they sturdy? Cost effective? Have you considered the cost compared to how often you alter menu items?
  • Does the menu contain additional information, such as pointing out vegetarian, gluten free or spicy items?
  • Does your menu work well with how you promote your specials? Will they be contained on separate menus or table talkers?
  • Who is your audience and what type of dining experience do you want them to have?
Solopress table talkers with free UK delivery.
Our Table Talkers are a great compliment to any menu design.

When you keep all these points in mind, you’re well on your way towards having a winning menu design. It will bring new customers into your bar or restaurant, and keep them coming back time and time again.

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