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How to Design Digital Menu Content That Sells

Updated: Jun 12, 2019



Back in the day, only established restaurants and brands had access to high-end food photography. Smaller businesses with limited budgets often had to limit their menus to one set of photographs for the rest of their career. These photographs were often fair-to-middling quality, at best.


Nowadays, small- and medium-sized business and restaurant owners have more access to powerful digital tools that were previously only available to giant corporations. This is changing menus and restaurant signage in every conceivable way.


Printing brand-new menus and signage is prohibitively expensive, considering its recommended your menu at least once a year. A digital menu completely removes that expense, on top of many other benefits.


When handled correctly, designing quality content for your digital menu board not only saves you money, it makes you money.


Let's learn more about how to create the best possible content for your digital menu to boost your sales!


Creating Content For Your Digital Menu


Let's start right out by stating the obvious. There's no such thing as out-of-the-box creative strategies. The best kind of content for your digital menu will be the ones that appeal to your customers. It'll make your food and beverages look their absolute best.


That being said, there are certain time-honored design tips and approaches. We'll also offer some creative ideas to jump-start your own creativity. We're here to help you make your digital menu board look its absolute best.


1. Categorize Your Menu

Remember the design saying "form follows function." Your digital restaurant menu is, first and foremost, a menu. Your customers need to be able to find what they're looking for.


Rows and columns place your menu items in a context your customers will understand. Have separate columns for entrees, appetizers, and drinks, for instance. Consider having a specialized spot for daily specials if your restaurant has them. It's an easy way to draw attention to special menu items.


2. Know Your Goals

This is Business 101, but knowing what you're aiming for will have a major impact on your overall digital menu design. Too often, business owners adopt new technology as an end in itself. That reduces something as potentially powerful as a digital menu into just another gimmick.


Not only is this a waste of a digital menu's capacity, but it also makes it difficult to say whether or not it's even working.


If you decide what aspect of your restaurant you're hoping to improve with a digital menu, that's a huge step towards figuring out if it's working or not. It'll also impact how you set up your digital menu.


Luckily, many digital menu systems come with their own advanced analytic systems. When paired with your Point-of-Sales (POS) system, it can become a powerful tool for spotting trends and making predictions.


Consider using your digital menu to test out your different menu items and promotions. When paired with analytics, digital signage can become an impromptu A/B test. It'll let you know what working with your customers and what isn't, without spending a penny.


3. Use Hierarchical Text

This pointer is more like Design 101. Customizing the visual elements of your digital menu is one of the easiest ways to direct your customers without using a ton of text.


Your food categories should be the largest text. Placing these headers at the top of the rows and columns makes a lot of sense but isn't necessarily set in stone. Feel free to experiment or adapt the design aesthetic to fit your restaurant's brand.


Font weight is another way to emphasize certain text. Consider having your sub-categories in a thicker font than the individual items but less thick than the Category headers.


As a rule of thumb, you should never use a font smaller than 20 or 30 pt (26-40 pixels.) Another good design pointer is you should increase the size of your font by one inch for every ten feet between the menu and your customers.


4. Stay Balanced

This is another time-honored design principle. Having all of the bold and heavy text on one side of a menu creates a lopsided look. Instead, spread the weighted fonts and images throughout the digital menu to inspire your customers to look at the whole thing.


Having all of the images and flashy lettering on one side means your customers aren't as likely to see the rest of the menu. You might consider using this tendency to your opportunity as well, however. Consider putting bright images next to higher ticket items while using smaller font for budget dishes.


5. Use Images Sparingly

The temptation to wallpaper your digital menu with as many colorful, tasty images as possible can be nearly overwhelming. After all, isn't that one of the main perks of digital signage in the first place?


Getting your first digital menu can be a bit like a first grader discovering Photoshop for the first time. Before you know it, every font ever created is worked into each and every picture, usually in a variety of sizes and an eye-watering array of colors. There will likely be prolific use of exclamation points, as well.


Sprinkle the images tastefully throughout your menu. Make sure to use images of the actual food from your restaurant as well, if at all possible. Using stock photos can leave some customers feeling dissatisfied and taken advantage of.


Digital menus are going to keep becoming more established as an accepted part of the restaurant industry. Consider getting one now while they're still flashy and novel. You'll also have more time to practice your design aesthetic, giving you one more leg up over your competition.


Ready For A Digital Menu For Your Restaurant?

OptiSigns lets you turn average TV sets into digital signage. You could transform a run-of-the-mill flat screen into a digital menu without having to spend thousands of dollars.

Check out our prices to get started and contact us today with any questions!

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