02 Jul 2014 / by Ryan Gushue / in Product
7 Tips for Designing the Best Digital Menu – Text, Orientation, Color Balance and More
Choosing your menu template and design within your software not only communicates your product to customers, it gives your brand a visual identity. Through the structure, colors, and various design elements, you can optimize your menu for the best readability. Cluttered menus are a common problem, creating unnecessary noise between your offering and customers.
While most digital menu software providers, like Enplug, offer easy-to-edit templates that won’t require much additional design work, it’s still important to understand what elements will make your menu both easy-to-read and beautiful. This will especially come in handy when editing your menu board to match your brand.
1.) Use categories, columns, and rows to structure your template
Menu content needs to be structured in an orderly fashion for customers to easily understand it and determine what to order. Categories sort items into groups. For example, your salads should be in the same area, so customers can easily comprehend all of your salad offerings. Columns and rows structure your content within categories, making it easy to understand from a distance. For example, usually all names are in one column with the price in the next column. Rows separate each menu item.
2.) There should be a hierarchy of text
Category headings should be the largest, sub categories second largest, and items/descriptions/prices third largest. Text weight (boldness) can also be used to create a hierarchy of text. In this case, the top of your menu should include more bold lettering, sub categories slightly lighter, and items/descriptions/prices the lightest.
The absolute smallest font size you should use is ~20-30 pt (or 26-40 pixels). A general rule of thumb is for every 10 ft. of distance between your customers and the menu your text should grow taller by an inch.
3.) Proper balance moves the eyes
Avoid using heavy visual weight on only one side (or screen) of the menu, it will lessen the chance customers will look elsewhere and have the opportunity to browse your full menu. If you have two digital menu boards and one is full of color and large images, then customers won’t focus on the other screen. Creating balance will allow the customer to move through the menu efficiently and make the best buying decision.
4.) Don’t overuse images
There is no exact rule of thumb for the number of images on your digital menu, however, too many can hurt your design. You want to create a proper visual balance (see below), and make sure that the images don’t get in the way of conveying the information of your menu. Some menus look great without any images at all.
“Images entice customers. For pictures of your product, always use your own professional, real images, as businesses often get criticized when their offering doesn’t live up to photoshopped stock images used for advertising. Stock images should only be used for thematic background purposes.” -Enplug’s Lead Content Developer, Gabby
5.) Avoid harsh contrast and saturation
Whether it’s images, text, or background, avoid using high contrast and saturated color combinations. These colors are hard to read and tire the eyes out fast.
6.) Convey your brand
Your menu board visually symbolizes your brand through the text, color scheme, and overall theme of your design. Pick and choose elements from your website, logo, and store to conceptualize a menu design right for you.
7.) Your menu needs breathing room
There needs to be empty spaces surrounding your text/images so your menu doesn’t become too crowded or cluttered. Having negative space around objects creates definition and will make your content more visible to customers.
BONUS: Landscape or Portrait Menu Boards
When setting up a digital menu board, you can choose to design and display your menu in either landscape or portrait. Determine which orientation is better suited to efficiently fit your your menu content. Also factor in the area which your screen is being installed, as it may only work with a certain orientation. Take the screen orientation into consideration when choosing a screen.
Look for these design elements in the Enplug menu design above. It’s important to not lose sight of the overall goal: to inform customers of what your business has to offer!
Ready to get started? Request a demo to learn more about Enplug’s beautiful and simple digital menu solution for restaurants.
Enplug digital signage software was co-founded by CEO Nanxi Liu and CTO Tina Denuit-Wojcik in 2012 to enable organizations to use customized real-time streaming content to create engaging external and internal communications.
About Enplug Digital Signage Software
Enplug digital signage makes it simple for businesses to create and share compelling visual content for their marketing and employee communications. Our software powers content on thousands of TVs worldwide with news feeds, social media walls, sports scores, employee leaderboards, graphics, and videos. Enplug was founded in 2012 in Los Angeles, California.