3 Menu Design Tips

1. Sweet Spot

For years menus were designed under the assumption that a customer's eyes were initially drawn to the upper righthand corner of the menu. It was believed that a customer would gaze there the longest and most frequently. Restaurants responded to the "sweet spot" by placing their most profitable items in the righthand corner.

But a new eye-tracker study by San Francisco State University hospitality management professor Sybil Yang has found that customers read a menu sequentially like a book, moving from left to right down the pages of a menu, disregarding the conventional wisdom of sweet-spots. Though there weren't any distinct areas customers would fixate on, there were "sour spots" or areas that contained information about the restaurant and a list of salads that were routinely avoided. 


2. Less is More

Nothing confuses and complicates customers more then trying to order a meal from a congested and ill-designed menu. We call this "dinner decision fatigue" because studies have shown that humans pay a large biological price when making decisions. Constricting your menu items actually does your diners a favor, especially if they are running on low energy. Fewer dinner selections also lead to a more efficient kitchen, as well as lower food costs and increased storage space. 


3. Groupies

Keep it simple for customers attempting to locate dishes by arranging menu items sequentially and in logical groups, starting with appetizers. You can also use boxes to promote a group of dishes with the highest profit margins, like pastas or carb-based items. Finish by making your section headings clear and distinguishable from the rest of the menu.  


Steven Manolakis