5 Creative Design Tips for Digital Menus

The upper left corner, center spot (above register) are key areas of the menu.

Designing artwork for digital menus is a unique challenge. Unlike static/cardboard menus, you have the option to use rich media, animations, motion graphics and takeovers. The capabilities are practically endless!

Because it’s a different kind of medium it requires a different type of creative design style. At WAND we’ve created thousands of digital menus and (besides designing them making us incredibly hungry all the time) we’ve picked up on some design tips. Here are five of them to think about as you design your menus

1.Think Strategically. First, before doing anything with your digital menu design from a creative standpoint, stop and consider your objectives. Digital menus are a strategic communication tool – both from a sales perspective, and from a customer messaging perspective. They are a key item for building your brand so you need clear objectives for your menus. The objectives for your menus will then guide your creative decisions around placement, focus of content, speed, LTOs to feature, high margin items to showcase, etc. Make sure you have a plan before you jump in.

2.Consider Placement. The upper left corner, center spot (above register) are key areas. Also highly memorable are the top couple items/last couple items in a list. So – if you are looking to drive interest to these products, call attention to them in a promotional area or list them first in your categories to increase their sales. Keep in mind the customer experience as you place your menu items. At WAND we test these types of executions live at our onsite creative lab. We can see what the customer will experience in the restaurant before the menu leaves our creative department.

3.Create Focus. Unlike a static menu, one of the key advantages to using digital communication tools like menu boards is the opportunity to create an area of focus by aligning design decisions with your objectives. Choose to have your menus focus on an LTO or combo meals instead of the center and corners of your menu. Use techniques like takeovers to showcase a multitude of different fresh and healthy products.

4.Cycle Content. There are two types of cycling content to consider. First, there is the ability to create focus by creating promotional space to feature LTO’s and promotional items. Keep in mind that studies show that if LTO’s become stagnant (remaining longer than 60 days) customer engagement virtually stops. Changing your LTO’s and promos every 30-60 days will keep your content fresh and your customers interested and engaged. Second, cycling content can be a way to use menu space more efficiently by cycling breakfast, lunch, or dinner items through with dayparting. With digital menus the opportunity lies in the flexibility of the medium. Dayparting and flexible content fields allow your brand to showcase a multitude of different fresh and healthy products. You may feature different salads each day of the week during lunch on your POP boards and then showcase different wraps and high-protein offerings during dinner. Customers love the variety and you’ll create a better customer experience in your restaurants.

5.Use “Delicious” Product Video and Imagery. Another tactic is to use amazing imagery and video on your boards. It’s hard to deny a beauty shot of the world’s most delicious burger. You can see the steam rising, the cheese is melted just right and it’s got all of the toppings that you love. Bacon. Mushrooms. That secret sauce. Yum! It may be 1000 calories but some customers won’t care because they are brand and product loyalists. Using high quality, dazzling imagery and motion graphics gets customer attention and may drive product choice and preference. Make them say, “Yes! I want THAT because it looks so good.” Video is one of the most engaging forms of communication today. Just look at the success of sites like You Tube or how video is an integral part of Facebook and Snapchat. Customers are engaging with video everywhere that matters to them. Use it to connect customers to your menu in your restaurant! Nothing sells food like slow motion video of the item steaming on a plate, an ice cold beverage being poured into a tall glass, a stir fry being cooked, cookies slowly rising as they bake, etc. Use this to sell!

One final thing; it is critical for you to measure your results. Whether it’s increased sales of LTO’s, high margin items, helping customers order more easily – reducing wait times, building your brand through community information, find ways to measure what you are trying to achieve. As we have said, the digital medium allows you to have flexibility in changing content and keeping engagement high. Use it to your advantage to constantly advance your objectives. Ultimately, what works for you, may be slightly different than others. Plan, test, measure, change/implement – do it again!