5 Clever Restaurant Menu Tricks That Make Customers Spend More

October 21, 2016 / Reading: 3 minutes

Besides the great smells wafting out the door from the kitchen and the friendly waitresses, the menu is your opportunity to express to the customer how delicious and coveted your restaurant is.

Simply telling the customer how great your food is via mouth-water descriptions is not enough, though, you need to use some principles of design and a little psychological technique to get them to bite.

Does your menu check off all of these restaurant menu design tips? Let’s go over the most important elements of menu design.

1. Communicating prices

Restaurant menus work best when prices are clearly communicated, yet aren’t the star of the show. You don’t want to deceive customers, but you also don’t want them to be able to just open the menu and order the cheapest dish on the first page. You could accomplish this by a number of ways: misaligning prices, leaving the change in unusual digits (like 66 cents, 55 cents, etc.), and by simply pricing dishes in ways that it becomes a waste of time to scan prices in the first place.

2. Colors and textures are key

If your menu’s color scheme and use of space is strong enough, you can make an effective menu without even using high-def color photos altogether. For you to achieve this, you are going to need to get some professional advice from a graphic designer who knows their way around the color wheel.

You need to use some creative design and a little psychological technique to get your clients to bite.

Colors can also affect a person’s appetite or thirst. Reds, greens, and oranges are colors that are commonly used to stimulate appetites, while purples and dark blues are often hard to read and create a calming effect, which is not ideal for ravenous appetites. Either way, the color scheme must match the restaurant design itself, so consistency is key.

3. Use compelling photos

Menu real estate is a precious commodity, you can’t overcrowd it or risk losing a customer’s interest. If you’re putting big pictures for every dish, you better have a decent size menu and some high quality printing. In most cases, the cost to produce highly professional photos may not be worth the investment.

Great menu design is not intrinsic on having photos for everything on the menu. Instead, place all your best-selling dishes on the front of the menu and leave the inside to just clean, effective menu descriptions.

4. Use the right typography

Text is very important; it needs to be legible and appropriate for your restaurant. It should be large enough to be read by someone who is looking for a quick bite to eat, while being attractive enough so it doesn’t clash with any colors or background gradients.

If your restaurant serves dishes from around the world, it’s a nice touch to include a description or translation to what it is exactly.

5. Use symbols / icons

The best way to save a lot of space on your menu is to take advantage of universal symbols and/or emoticons. Even if your restaurant is considered upscale or “fancy,” you should try to incorporate a sort of symbol key to designate common food elements that would be helpful to people who have allergies or an aversion to specific types of food. Use flames for levels of spiciness, gluten, eggs, and so-forth.