The menu is the secret to the success of many restaurants. Whether it’s an elegant letter on rough paper, a colorful and cheerful one from a tapas bar, or a simple blackboard, there are good ones and bad ones.
The sooner you convince yourself that your restaurant menu should look the same as the best restaurant in the world, the better. Many people are unaware that the menu is the restaurant’s showcase and reflects the chef, waiters, locals, hygiene, etc.
You should know that there are studies that show how the menu influences your customers’ purchasing decisions and even improves or worsens their experience at your premises. The psychological burden of menu design received an acclaimed article in The New York Times.
What is a restaurant menu?
A restaurant menu is a list of dishes that the customer can buy. Next to each dish, the price of the same per diner must be indicated.
It is usually ordered in the usual order of each meal. So the breakfast menu should have drinks first, pastries second, and cooked dishes third. A food menu should start with the starters, then the first course, the second course, etc.
The menu is usually made of paper, although more and more restaurants are opting for digital menus.
What format should a restaurant menu have?
There are different formats that can be used for the, cards-starting with the material or purpose of the letter. For example, pizzerias and fast food places generally use the same letter to advertise in mailboxes, so they use a single-use thin paper format that ends up in the trash after one use.
Classic restaurants usually use dinA4 formats, diptychs, or triptychs. Sometimes they laminate the paper to be able to clean the letter in case it gets stained. In some restaurants where the variety of dishes is excellent, menus are usually used as if they were a book.
How to design a menu?
There is no single way to design a restaurant menu, but you can follow tips that work:
- If you put an expensive plate first, the other plates will look reasonably cheap.
- Putting more than seven dishes creates confusion and leads the customer to order dishes that they have already eaten before.
- Include photographs. Iowa State University did a study at a summer camp in which including a photo of a salad on the menu increased the odds of ordering a salad for lunch by 70%. But beware, you should not include too many photographs if you do not want to give the appearance of lower quality. And, of course, only post professional photos.
- Prevent the customer from looking at the price before the plate. This can be achieved, for example, by preventing the price from being linked with a line to the name of the dish. Better if we put it below the description with a font similar to the one on the plate. In this way, the customer’s gaze does not go over the prices and then decide on the dish.
What should you avoid in your letter?
The client must not believe that he does not know what he is asking for. This is achieved by avoiding rare sources. You also must avoid placing the dishes in a disorderly way in several columns. The absence of descriptions or photographs often leads the customer to choose dishes he already knows so as not to risk it, especially if the unusual dishes also have high prices.
In short, we must avoid disorder, extreme originality, and lack of clarification in what is being sold.
Top 3 free tools to design menus
When we talk about online design, it is inevitable to talk about Canva. Canva is more than a place to design brochures, logos, and restaurant menus. It has dozens and dozens of free templates, although you can buy a more professional one if you want. It also allows you to design from scratch.
DesignCap stands out for its simplicity and allows you to design menus for free. It is true that their preset menu templates are outstanding and that you could use them to illustrate your menu easily and quickly.
Venngage allows you to design up to 5 cards for free. We have included it in this top because some of its original templates cannot be seen on other sites. For example, they have wedding menus, Valentine’s Day, or Christmas, and it’s worth looking at.
Online template or design it from scratch in Word or Photoshop
If you are a design ace, photoshop or Word are the programs you could use to design your letter. In the case of Photoshop, there are sites like the graphic river where you can find professional card designs of all kinds for sale that would save many hours of work.
However, if you don’t want to design from scratch or have no interest in learning how to do it, some tools allow you to create a professionally styled one in 5 minutes. These designs do not allow you to customize, for example, the resolution or other printing options. Despite the technical shortcomings of this option, likely, your client will not appreciate the difference between this type of letter and the professional one.