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Menu Design Enginering


By understanding the psychology behind menu reading and purchasing, the restaurant can fine-tune its menus to maximize revenues while significantly improving the dining experience.

Ingredients of Successful Menu Design

1. Color Breakdown


Yes, colors have a direct connection to our moods and thought patterns. Colors in menu design provoke emotion and can directly affect what we order on a menu. From a psychological view, colors with food menus represent:


  • Green: fresh

  • Orange: incites appetites

  • Yellow: happiness

  • Red: drives action

  • Blue: calm and trusting

Pizza Take Out Menu Template.png

2. Sweet Spots

When we first view a menu, our eyeballs look at the middle, then progress to the uppermost right and then scan to the left. This is known as the sweet spot of menu designs.


These three areas, center, upper right, and upper left, are where you'll want to place your highest margin items.

3. Pricing Arrangement Games


Restaurants will often list their more expensive items at the top of their menus and then list lower priced items below. By listing lower priced items after the top-priced, guests will have the impression that the lower-priced items are of greater value.

4. Subconscious Menu Design

According to studies, guests are much likely to order the first two items listed in each menu category. Restaurants that know this often list their high-profit item first in the restaurant menus. 

In exchange, guests select the bottom items from a menu, and because of this, restaurants will feature their 3rd cost-effective item at the end of each menu design category section.

5. Controlled Costing


Regardless of how delicious an item sounds, guests still weigh pricing into account. Knowing this, restaurants will specifically price out several "value" based items to cater to this type of guest.


6. Carefully Crafted Descriptions


How items are written and described are many times overlooked. By using emotionally charged words, you can invoke responses that drive sales. "Hand Picked Baked Apple Pie" can be as simple as a pre-made apple pie that has been sitting in a freezer for three months.


7. Menu Storytelling

Often the descriptions will all be a shorter length and written, so they visually fit nicely into the menu design. A longer description stands out because it is not consistent with the rest of the menu design.

This is purposely done to grab the guest's eye to a specific item. Knowing this, restaurants tend to do this with higher-margin items to help drive sales of that item.


8. Items Glossaries

Another great way to upsell items is by adding a glossary at the bottom of your restaurant menu design. The glossary section is your chance to correctly describe an item, thus increasing the chances of selling that $29.99 fire-grilled New York strip.

9. Printed Materials

How menus feel is a direct reflection of the restaurant brand perception. Higher-end restaurants will use leather-bound cover menus, with heavier paper inside. This reflects a higher-end, premium image.

For fast-casual and fast-food restaurants, you will tend to see basic, more standard types of paper used for the menu.

10. Negative Menu Space

If a restaurant menu design is jammed with items, your eyes will organically look for less crowded spaces. Savvy restaurants will purposely use this to their advantage. In the less crowded areas of a menu design, higher-margin items can be featured. This singles them out, bringing exclusive attention to those items, thus driving sales.


11. Less is More

Often restaurant owners like to keep adding new items and or appetizers to their menu. Yes, having options is good, but from a guest standpoint, it can be overwhelming. 

Clever restaurants focus on listing 6-9 items for the menu category. This limits the overwhelming feeling while still offering your guests enough options to choose from.

12. Menu Imagination

By paying close attention to how your menu descriptions are written, you can dramatically improve the way you influence purchases. Descriptions like "the world's best burger" are broad claims that guests many times ignore. 

By adding word descriptive attributes like "locally caught" or "hand-cut," you can paint a vivid picture of flavors.



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