While it’s clear that there are many benefits to online restaurant menus, this doesn’t mean that you can simply toss up a PDF of your menu and call it a day.
If you want to boost sales and actually make your restaurant discoverable online, you need to keep a few important considerations in mind when setting up your online menu. Below, we cover three online menu design tips for your restaurant.
Ditch the PDF
As mentioned above, search engines like Google crawl the Internet looking for keywords – keywords that help identify your restaurant’s website when someone makes a relevant search. With a text-based menu, it’s easy for Google to crawl your menu so that your specific dishes or cuisine will pop up when diners make relevant searches.
However, PDFs are a bit harder for Google to index unless you have properly formatted them – something that takes a bit more time and knowledge of SEO. As a result, it’s generally recommended that you include a text-based version of your menu on your website, instead of a PDF.
PDF menus can also be a problem if you’re using contactless QR code menus in your restaurant. Solutions like TouchBistro’s QR Code Generator allow you to create custom QR codes that diners can scan to instantly open up your restaurant’s website on their phone. Once a diner is on your website, they should then be able to simply browse your menu. However, if you’re using PDF menus, this can be frustrating for diners because PDFs are difficult to read on mobile and can be slow or inconvenient to load.
Beyond these technical considerations, there’s also the practical challenges of using PDF menus. If you use PDFs or images of your menu online, this means that you have to upload a new file or image every single time you make a change to your menu. Whereas a text-based version of your menu can easily be updated with just a few clicks.
With so many drawbacks to using PDFs, it’s best practice to build a proper HTML version of your menu. Though this sounds intimidating, it’s easy to do on your own with website builders like Wix or Squarespace. Alternatively, you can hire a web designer to translate your menu from print to online.
Make Your Menu Easy to Navigate
Though your online menu is a great sales and marketing tool for you, it’s also a valuable source of information for your customers. As a result, you want to make sure that reading your online menu is a good experience for your customers – whether they’re viewing your menu from their laptop or their phone.
When building your online menu, consider the fact that customers don’t want to scroll through pages of items they aren’t interested in just to find what they’re looking for. Not to mention, having too many choices can cause decision fatigue, which is when customers are faced with so many choices that they end up feeling unhappy about all of them.
Part of making your online menu easy to navigate means limiting the number of options that diners have to sift through. One way to do this is to add buttons to the top or side of your menu, with titles or icons that can lead users to each section. Another option is to shrink your menu by limiting the number of choices in each category, or by removing unpopular dishes and dishes that don’t travel well. And with fewer choices, the selection process becomes much faster and easier for customers.
In addition to limiting the amount of information on your online menu, make sure that customers can actually read the information that is there. This means using easy-to-read fonts, appropriate colors, and straightforward language in your menu.
When you make any changes to the size or structure of your menu, keep in mind the different devices and even browsers that your customers may be using. Test your online menu experience on mobile phones, tablets, and laptops to make sure the process is consistent across each platform or browser (Google, Safari, Firefox, etc.) and doesn’t have any bugs.
Optimize for Sales
Perhaps the most important tip for creating an awesome online menu is optimizing for sales. Because after all, you don’t want people to simply read your menu; you also want them to order.
Part of optimizing your online menu can include using menu engineering principles and a bit of behavioural psychology to influence the dishes that diners choose.
These strategies and tactics can include:
- Include high-margin items in the “golden triangle” where a customer’s eye goes first (the center, then the top right and top left corners).
- Highlight high-margin items with different lines, colors, or formatting to catch the reader’s eye (but only one per menu category).
- Limit the selection in each category to help diners avoid the “paradox of choice.”
- Use relative pricing and make diners think they’re getting a deal by placing a cheap, yet high-profit dish next to an expensive one.
- Promote cross-selling by recommending popular pairings – check your POS reports to find items commonly purchased together.
- Upsell by including menu modifiers like extra toppings.
- Remove dollar signs ($) to encourage customers to spend more.
- Promote special takeout-only offerings or deals.
All of these different strategies can encourage diners to choose higher-margin or low-cost dishes, ultimately boosting your bottom line.
Beyond restructuring your online menu, you can also optimize for sales by making the ordering process seamless. With solutions like TouchBistro Online Ordering, customers can browse your menu and place their order all in the same platform so they never have to navigate away from your website or use another platform to place their order.
This kind of direct online ordering system not only makes it easy to turn the people reading your online menu into actual customers, but it also allows you to keep all the profits from those online orders.
From boosting sales to helping customers discover your venue, online restaurant menus are a powerful sales and marketing tool for restaurateurs. This is especially true in the wake of COVID-19 as consumers continue to opt for takeout and delivery, and restaurants look for new ways to drive revenue. With all that in mind, it’s clear that these menu design tips are something you can’t afford to ignore.
This article was written by our friends at TouchBistro
About Touch Bistro
Touch Bistro provides an iPad POS and integrated payment solutions that helps restaurateurs put more money in their pockets and more time in their hands.