Winning Fast Casual Menu Boards

Digital menu boards are quickly becoming a popular choice for fast casual restaurants. Not only do they make customers feel like they’re dealing with a modern business, but the staff also enjoys the fact that pricing, menu items, and even the menu board design can be quickly updated with ease. And best of all – they’re bright and easy to read!

USE EASY TO READ FONTS. DON’T GET FANCY.

Choosing the right font can make or break your design. For instance, it can be tempting to try to use fonts that portray a rustic or artisanal look, but they can be very difficult for your patrons to read. And remember, you as the designer know what your menu says. It will read as clear as day to you. But for first-time viewers, it could look like hieroglyphics. With that said, here are a few fonts that are always easy to read:

  • Arial
  • Helvetica
  • Veranda
  • Trebuchet
  • Merriweather

You may already have a brand style guide that outlines the fonts and typography deemed suitable by your business. Refer to that style guide when designing your menu board.

WHAT COLORS SHOULD YOU USE ON A MENU BOARD?

The single most important aspect of choosing colors is that the color palette you use should match your branding. If you don’t have a branding style guide, it’s usually a safe bet to choose a complementary color palette. Complementary colors are a safe choice when designing menus. The high contrast between colors make reading the menu easy and clear.

LOSE THE MOTION

It can be fun to design digital menus that swipe, jiggle, animate, etc. However, for the people that actually need to read the menu, it can be a nightmare. When someone is trying to decide what to order and in the middle of their decision-making process. If the screen moves and the information is no longer present it becomes very frustrating. Not only is it frustrating to the customer, but it will also be frustrating to your bottom line!

PICTURES OR NO PICTURES

Pictures of your food and beverage items can help you push your more profitable items. But it does come at a cost. And that cost is real estate. If you have certain specials or money makers, it can be smart to give those items extra attention. However, if it causes your menu to become extra cluttered, making the rest of the decision making process more difficult, you may run into some of the same problems discussed above.

The quality of your pictures and food photos will also have an effect. If the photos are of poor quality and make people uninterested in those items, then adding pictures or photos can be a detractor.

TOO MANY MENU CHOICES CAN LEAD TO NO CHOICES AT ALL

This can be a real headache for many restaurant owners. Do you offer everything under the sun? Or do you provide a very limited selection? On one hand, if you offer 50+ menu items, chances are your restaurant won’t be amazing at making all of those items. You’ll be offering a lot of mediocrity. Even worse, customers may just skip your joint and try the next place. On the other hand, depending on your clientele – they may love your restaurant and eat there almost every day, so you don’t want them getting bored with your fare.

When it comes to menu design, less is more.

DOTS OR LINES

Lines between the item and price can make it easy for the customer’s eye to track the menu item to the price. If there’s a lot of information on your menu, then dots and lines can help the customers’ eye track down pricing better. However, if you just have a few menu items, then dots and lines aren’t necessary.

HOW BRIGHT SHOULD YOUR MENU BOARD BE

It’s important that your display matches the ambiance of the room it’s in. If you’re trying to provide a low energy, more relaxing environment (a wine bar for example), you’ll probably want to turn down the brightness. If it’s a drive-thru menu, then you want your menu adjusted to the brightest setting possible. One disadvantage of running your display at the brightest setting possible is it will draw more power and run up your electric bill. A creative way to use less power is to use white text on a black background. In this scenario, the menu can be adjusted to maximum brightness and still save power.

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU UPDATE YOUR MENU BOARD 

Updating your menu board can cause confusion for you current customers. If items or sections move around, they may get frustrated if they can no longer easily find them. The only reason to update your menu board should be for:

  • Reflect new pricing.
  • To test a new design against an older one.
  • You might get a wild stroke of creativity in the middle of the night, leading you to want to redesign your menu. Unfortunately, this can be a very dangerous move that can destroy sales and more importantly profits.

A great menu board is a crucial component to a great customer experience at your establishment.

Final points to Remember:

  • Keep it simple. Don’t suffocate people with info and text.
  • Focus on the stuff that’s most important.
  • Use color and fonts that are high contrast. So you can see them from a far distance.
  • Focus on readability.
  • Focus on clarity.
  • Use the largest text size possible.
  • Use easy to read fonts.
  • Use colors specified by your brand.
  • Don’t use motion or animation.
  • Too many menu choices can lead to no choices at all.
  • Dots and lines can help customers track pricing easier.
  • Screen brightness depends on whether your display is indoor or outdoor and the ambiance or setting you’re looking for.

About OrderMatic Corporation

At OrderMatic, we develop solutions that enhance the customer transactional experience in new and innovative ways. For over 60 years, we have provided turnkey contract manufacturing services nationwide. From exploring digital menu boards to using presell menus effectively, there are many ways to improve your restaurant’s efficiency even beyond best sales practices. Contact OrderMatic to discuss how you can enhance both your drive-thru and dine-in experience!