Mouthwatering Menu Design

According to, “Your menu is the only communication with your guests that 100 percent of them will see. But you only have about 109 seconds to say all you need to say.” When it comes to menu design, you need to deliver the quality of a gourmet meal at the speed of a drive-through.


First Course: The Branding

You should have a thorough style and messaging guide for all your marketing efforts. And it’s important to apply the guide to your menu for consistency in your branding. Weave the elements of your brand into the menu through these touchpoints:

  • Photos. Pictures help sell your product and break up longer blocks of text to add visual interest, so choose shots that are clear, colorful and enticing. Most times, your cell phone will not do the trick. Even your Uncle Joe, who is great at family portraits and landscapes, will likely flop on a food shot. Consider hiring a food stylist and photographer to make sure your food looks delicious.
  • Typography. The font used should reinforce your brand identity. Is your restaurant fun, modern, traditional or nostalgic? Your font should reflect your personality as a business. But avoid overly fancy, swirly fonts that can be difficult to decipher — choose ones that are easy to read, and don’t use tiny print in an effort to stuff as much as possible into your menu. Always focus on your user experience.
  • Color. Pick a limited color palette and stick to it. Red, green and blue are frequently used for a number of reasons: red is thought to stimulate the appetite; green is associated with more healthful options; blue is commonly associated with seafood, black can be elegant or modern. However, you need not be limited by such conventions.


Second Course: The Story

Keep the following in mind:

  • Too many offerings can overwhelm the decision-making capacity of your guests, so keep it short and sweet. Try to limit choices to about seven options per food category — so seven appetizers, seven entrees and seven desserts.
  • Longer, well-crafted menu descriptions tend sell more food — up to 30 percent more — so don’t hold back. The more descriptive you are, the better the chance for a sale.
  • Choose your words well. Use adjectives with an appetizing impact, like “golden” or “tender,” that will tempt your guests. Spend even more time on the descriptions for your higher-profit-margin selections.
  • Refrain from using dollar signs and decimal points if possible when listing the cost of items — it reinforces the pain of payment. Focus on your delicious offerings instead.


Third Course: The Layout

Heat maps show that guests’ eyes usually start in the middle of the menu, then go to the top left corner and end at the top right corner. Use this to your advantage by featuring food with higher profit margins in these areas, and show them off with call-out boxes and white space.

Another important decision is the order of your dishes. List them in each category from most to least expensive. Viewing pricier items first provides an anchor to compare less-expensive items against, making them seem like a better value by comparison.


Fourth Course: The Mobile Experience

Finally, don’t ignore the growing popularity of online ordering via mobile platforms. Convert your menu into an online format for your website or Yelp page, and sign up for delivery services like Uber Eats or Postmates. It’s important, however, to tailor the menu experience to the mobile user. Scaled down written descriptions, enticing photos and clear and simple site navigation and checkout are key.

Are you ready to sink your teeth into a mouthwatering menu design? Contact us today — bon appétit!