Are you concerned about readability in menu design? You should be. Here are some important points to consider and to avoid when striving toward comfortable readability in menu design.
Readability in Menu Design: Points to Consider and to Avoid
The Road to Disaster
Something I’ve seen time and again with menu design is for a proper font size to be sacrificed to fit a design or target number of pages/panels on a menu. It’s understandable how this happens.
It starts off with a goal of having a four panel menu and so the designer is fed copy and content as it comes available from the culinary and marketing teams. Often the team is on a tight deadline and gets a designer started before everything is in order to compress the timetables. The amateur designer starts plugging in the content as it is fed to her and spends 50% -75% of their budgeted time for the project fussing over getting the loose content to flow nicely over the four panels allotted and responding to the “no, use this new description and price instead” audible plays that occur along the way.
Then, right there at the end, the teams all realize there is too much content to fit in the predetermined page count. What comes next is they start squeezing, shrinking, and tweaking until ultimately the reduce the size of the font and throw out a few pieces of content or merchandizing so they hit the self-imposed deadlines and arbitrary page counts. The resulting menu is then hard to read and, while perhaps on time and on budget, the team collectively feel as though they have been put through the wringer and just barely averted catastrophe. If you get a menu that uses a tiny font, you can venture a guess it got there something like described above. Understandable, but also unacceptable.
The last minute rush and fussing with designers is common but not the best approach for menu engineering and design. It’s better to build in the requisite time to do things right so that all of the many considerations that go along with an effective menu strategy can germinate and render the highest potential for your restaurants.
As it relates to readability, beyond the font size there are also other considerations such as the font style (certain fonts hinder readability while other promote it), the lighting where the menus will be viewed, the audience that will be reading the menus, the paper and/or backgrounds – if any – that will be used in the final production.