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menu design rules



Restaurant menu design is a cornerstone of your customer's experience and essential to a successful advertising strategy. Including elements of your restaurant's ambiance, decore, understanding profitability, and creating a strong brand image are all examples of critical items for extraordinary menu design.

Foundation Secrets of Captivating Menu Design​

When it comes to menu design, it requires a thorough review first before starting with the layout. By doing careful research, you will reduce mistakes while maximizing your profits. 


Essential items to cover include:


  • Identifying your objectives

  • Establishing your brand’s image, colors, and logo

  • Perform a neighborhood restaurant competition review

  • Food items comparison and pricing

  • Outlining what signature dishes you’re known for

bowls menu template.png

1. Identifying Your Goals

​Besides your food, a menu is the 2nd most crucial aspect of your restaurant and operations flow. Your restaurant menu embodies your image and is an extension of your brand. Before starting on the actual menu design, sit down, and identify what you want to accomplish. 


Examples include:


  • Creates a strong, positive impression of your eatery

  • Features a compelling arrangement that captivates and excites

  • Properly promotes new items and featured specials

  • Upsells add-ons, cocktails, and desserts

2. Before Menu Design Evaluation


For anything to be successful, research is needed. When it comes to menu design, research means doing a deep-dig into every related to your menu:


  • Financials: get your food costs, and check if your set sale price meets your mark-up requirements

  • Competition: what are similar restaurants offering, and what are they doing right?

  • Trends: what food items are popular, new, and fresh in your restaurant niche?

  • Local Area: get an understanding of the neighborhood and demographic

  • Food: what items can you feature that other restaurants don't have?

  • Pricing: are your prices competitive and relative to the Area?

3. Your Restaurants Personality


Your brand and its image should be the spine of your menu design. When creating your brand, starts with identifying your objectives. Let's say your offering fine dining. A simple, text-based menu design could be used to showcase your menu in a classy and chic manner eloquently. 

Another example would be your catering to families and want to create a fun experience while promoting carry-out. For this, a high contrasting color menu that incorporates sharp food images would be ideal.

4. Menu Arrangement

Keeping it simple and in tune with the natural dining the process is key to success. The menu design should reflect the eating experience. Your item categories should flow; drinks, appetizers, salads, main dishes, and desserts. 

Add images, stars, arrow, or icons on specific items or categories to add depth and appeal. This type of highlighting is also useful for bringing attention to your higher-margin items. Remember, do not add too many stars or images as it could become a distraction and confusing. Also remember to select the correct combination of colors for your menu design, as colors can directly influence the feeling of a guest reading your menu.

5. Menu Design Optimzation

Create demand. To successfully do this, you need to feature your top-selling and highest-margin items in the "sweet spots." Sweet spots tend to receive most viewing and are first to be seen. 

These are areas of the menu that readers first look at; for example, eyeballs read left to right fashion, and people scanning the menu view it upper left to lower right. By adding borders around categories, color labels, and images, you can hit the menu sweet spot while guiding your customer's eyes across the menu. 

Menu names are also vital. Being creative and specific bring appeal and uniqueness to your restaurant menu design. In the description, list out key ingredients used to turbo-charge appeal, inducing customers to come back and try that dish!

6. Avoiding Menu Design Mistakes


If your restaurant menu is confusing and creates issues, the chances your customers will back diminish. Avoid these menu design mistakes to ensure maximum menu effectiveness:

  • Hard to read due to small text size

  • Menus are too big and hard to hold

  • Items don't feature English translation

  • The menu is old, torn, and looks weathered

  • Daily and weekly specials are not listed

  • Food imagery used isn't actual images of their food

  • The menu design isn't consistent with the brand 

7. Menu Pricing 


What is your menu pricing strategy? Are you looking to offer the best value or sell high-ticket items? Either way, it is fundamental to know what the competition is offering and how it is priced. Keeping your prices around $1 lower or higher than the competition, you can rest assured customers will not say anything about your charge for everyday items. 


When it comes to your signature or featured new items, you have more flexibility with pricing. To charge more, make sure to give enchanting names and descriptions to these items and accompany them with professionally taken images.


Once you have your items priced, do a review several days after finalizing. Look for pricing consistency amongst categories. Does the pricing match the local demographic, and does your pricing reflect your brand's image? By doing a review, you will catch little things that you may have overlooked.

8. Menu Design Review and Profitability Analysis

To stay ahead of the game, fresh, and making money, you need to know where you stand. By doing a quarterly or bi-annual review of your competition, you will gain a quick understanding of what they are doing and offering. Look for new menu items, pricing changes, and menu redesign.


When doing this type of review, you stay current on local competition trends and what the market is charging. You may discover that your pricing structure is too low or the way your items are presented features a stale menu design and needs to be refreshed. 


Aside from a competition review, perform an internal menu review and audit. Go over each item's costs, identify your current most popular items, and determine the highest margin items. 


This type of review will not only keep your menu fresh but current and fresh. Often you will discover it would make sense its time for a menu design update.

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