Designing Restaurant Menus: 7 Tips & Takeaways from KIMP

In the restaurant industry, a well-designed menu serves as an exceptional guide, setting the stage for a memorable dining experience. The significance of a good menu design extends far beyond aesthetics; it plays a pivotal role in influencing customers’ choices, enhancing their overall dining satisfaction, and ultimately impacting a restaurant’s ROI.

As we delve into the realm of menu design, we turn our attention to KIMP, a renowned leader in the unlimited graphic design service industry. With their wealth of experience and expertise, we will explore important tips and takeaways from restaurant menu designs crafted by KIMP. These insights promise to shed light on the art of designing restaurant menus.

Let’s get started with tip #1. 

1. Content Always Comes First

Content needs to take center stage in the art of designing restaurant menus, as it forms the backbone of a successful dining experience. The actual items and prices must be crystal clear, ensuring that diners can make informed choices. At times, the allure of artistic design can overshadow this fundamental requirement. Design should enhance, not obscure.

 In such cases, layout and text legibility take precedence.

Furthermore, menus often evolve to align with seasonal changes in supply and demand. As menus change, so should their design. This is where minimalism shines. A menu with minimal design allows for easy updates with less back-and-forth between the business and the designer.

And when restaurants have an extensive list of items on their menu or when they need to feature a description of each dish, minimalistic design is the answer. In other words, the more texts there are the less elaborate it should look in terms of design.

KIMP’s menu design is a prime example of this approach. Its clean, white canvas prioritizes content, providing a perfect layout that can accommodate future changes seamlessly. The simplicity of this design not only makes updates hassle-free but also allows diners to focus on what truly matters – the delicious offerings. 

In the realm of restaurant menu design, KIMP’s work is a testament to the principle that less is often more, creating an ideal canvas for both diners and culinary artistry.

2.  Follow Structured Layouts

Using structured layouts to separate categories is the second tip. This is a valuable technique when designing restaurant menus. This approach serves as the ideal means to create a visual hierarchy, guiding diners seamlessly across the menu. 

Visual hierarchy plays a pivotal role in restaurant menu design, just as it does in all graphic design, ensuring that the most important information takes precedence. Structured layouts help attain this standard. 

In this menu design by KIMP, a structured layout is achieved by the use of boxes. The white boxes against the vibrant red background are not only visually striking but also incredibly practical. Such boxes are especially crucial when the dominant color is as bold as this, as they effectively declutter the design and help individual menu items stand out.

Furthermore, the flexibility of adjusting box opacity offers a powerful tool to fine-tune the visual balance, ensuring that the design strikes the desired harmony between aesthetics and functionality.

KIMP’s menu design exemplifies the art of creating a visual hierarchy in this manner, where the skillful use of boxes achieves a structured layout. It enhances the overall dining experience and makes it easier for customers to navigate the menu and make their selections with ease.

3. Use High-Quality Images of Dishes

Our third tip delves into the crucial role of images in restaurant menu designs. The strategic use of images can significantly enhance a menu’s appeal. When incorporating images, opting for high-quality visuals is paramount, as it not only elevates the aesthetics but also helps in showcasing the actual product accurately.

In the menu design created by KIMP, the client’s images are seamlessly integrated to provide an ideal representation of the dishes. This approach caters to a significant consumer desire: the ability to see what a meal will look like before ordering.

It’s essential to note that while images work wonders for many restaurants, they may not suit every establishment. High-end fine dining places, for instance, often opt to forego image inclusion due to their frequently changing menus, where image updates can be impractical. 

Ultimately, the decision to use images when designing restaurant menus should align with the brand’s identity and the preferences of its target audience. 

But if you do decide to include images we suggest you follow KIMP’s adept integration of images. As you can see all the images are consistent with each other in terms of the look and the photographed angles. This is very important to maintain a cohesive and unified look across the menu. 

We also suggest removing the background in food images and cleaning it up to help it blend well into the menu design. 

4. Align the Menu with the Restaurant’s Character

Designing restaurant menus with the character of the restaurant is an essential aspect of creating a cohesive and immersive dining experience. The design should be a visual extension of the establishment’s personality, helping diners connect with its unique identity. 

The menu design by KIMP, which caters to an ice cream and cereal joint, serves as an exemplary case in point.

This establishment exudes a playful and whimsical character, and the menu design expertly mirrors this essence. The incorporation of a funny yet creative logo immediately captures the spirit of the place. KIMP’s use of bright colors, textures, gradients, and a mix of color splotches creates a comical yet appealing design consistent with the restaurant’s character. The result is a menu that not only entices but also resonates with the business’s identity.

Other restaurants should take a page from this book and ensure their menu design aligns with their character. The character of the restaurant is what draws different diners, and it is crucial that they see this reflected in the menu design.

 In doing so, restaurants can establish a strong brand presence and create a memorable dining experience that extends beyond the plate. KIMP’s design offers an inspiring example of how menu design can be a powerful tool for visual storytelling, ultimately enhancing the restaurant’s overall identity and appeal.

5. Use Illustrations to Beautify the Menu Design

For those seeking a creative spark for designing restaurant menus, especially when budget constraints limit the feasibility of expensive food photoshoots, here’s a valuable tip: consider using illustrations in place of images. This alternative approach can prove incredibly effective in adding character and visual appeal to your menu.

In the restaurant menu design by KIMP, we see this strategy put into practice with finesse. Appropriate illustrations thoughtfully adorn the design, cleverly utilizing negative space around the menu for maximum impact. The rustic line drawings not only infuse the menu with a unique charm but also serve to pique the diner’s appetite on a psychological level. 

Illustrations have the power to engage the imagination, often more effectively than actual photographs. They stimulate curiosity, sparking a desire to explore the culinary offerings. Additionally, illustrations allow for greater flexibility and consistency in design, making it easier to adapt the menu to changing offerings or seasonal variations.

This creative use of illustrations, as demonstrated in KIMP’s restaurant menu design, exemplifies a cost-effective, imaginative way to make a memorable impression, transcending budget limitations while enhancing the overall dining experience.

6. Use a Black Background

The choice of a black background for designing restaurant menus is a great option. While it may not be suitable for all establishments,  it can be a highly effective choice depending on the ambiance and theme of the restaurant. When used thoughtfully, a black menu can exude an air of elegance and sophistication.

To make such a design work, it’s crucial to use contrasting colors like white or yellow for texts and design elements to ensure legibility and maintain a visually pleasing composition.

KIMP’s black menu design is an excellent illustration of this concept. By incorporating the dominant yellow color from the restaurant’s logo and complementing it with white elements also drawn from the logo, KIMP’s designers create a striking visual contrast against the dark background. 

This choice not only maintains readability but also reinforces the brand’s identity throughout the menu.

In addition, the use of colored badges serves a dual purpose. They not only add a pop of color but also enhance the contrast levels, making it easier for diners to navigate the menu and make selections effortlessly. 

KIMP’s menu design exemplifies the art of using a black background in a way that enhances the restaurant’s character and identity while prioritizing legibility and visual appeal.

7. Choosing the Right Font Combinations

When designing restaurant menus, the strategic combination of fonts can be a powerful tool to create visual interest and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal. 

However, it’s equally crucial to exercise restraint and avoid overusing a multitude of fonts, as this can result in a cluttered and confusing design. Striking the right balance is an art, and experienced, professional designers excel in achieving this equilibrium.

One way to do it is by using the same typeface with different formatting options to establish a certain hierarchy.

KIMP’s restaurant menu, as showcased above, is a prime example of this principle in action. At first glance, the untrained eye might not discern the use of a variety of typefaces, as they are seamlessly integrated to create a cohesive and visually pleasing design. 

Notably, the category subheadings are rendered in bold, capitalized typeface, offering a clear visual distinction from the actual food items presented in the sentence case.

This distinction serves two essential purposes: first, it aids in creating a clear visual hierarchy, making it easier for diners to quickly navigate the menu and locate specific categories; and second, it balances the content on the menu, ensuring that the design remains visually appealing and organized. 

It’s this careful blend of fonts and typefaces that showcases the expertise of designers in enhancing the dining experience through well-thought-out menu design.

Let’s Wrap Up

According to statistics people in the US go out to eat at an average of 5.9 times a week. This means that they will be ordering off a menu 5.9 times a week. And global statistics show millennials go out to eat at least once a week. These stats combined prove how important it is to have a great menu design. These people will be ordering off the menu approximately the same number of times as these stats. 

These 7 tips and takeaways that we looked at from the restaurant menu designs from KIMP serve as great pointers to consider. As we looked at, considering these when designing restaurant menus can help you come up with perfect menus that give diners a great ordering experience further boosting order behavior. 

For further knowledge on the topic, we encourage reading this previous blog covering more examples and tips. 

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