How to Create An Online Menu Your Customers Will Love

Online Menu

Images add vital detail to your online menu.

More potential customers are finding your restaurant through your website.

How can you present your online menu in a way that attracts more orders?

Here’s a few tips I’ve learned from our best client websites at Restaurant Engine…

Lose the PDF

Why are so many restaurants still using this cumbersome menu format?! (tweet this)

A PDF menu is useful to have for reference, but it shouldn’t be the main way people interact with your menu online. Here’s three reasons why PDF menus will frustrate your customers:

  • They’re inconvenient to download – some people won’t view your PDF menu simply because they don’t want to download a separate file to their computer.
  • They’re less interactive – PDFs are viewed in a separate window, so they it tougher to navigate your site directly from the menu, or click on links within the menu. They take customers away from your site, instead of encouraging them to stay there longer!
  • PDF menus are often outdated – it’s much easier to make quick changes to a live site than a static document.
  • They’re difficult to view on mobile devices – have you ever tried to view a PDF menu on your smart phone? It’s not a good user experience.

Lose the PDF, and add your menu directly to your website’s “Menu” page. Add then “Menu” tab to you main navigation bar, and start sharing it on all your social networks. Be sure to optimize it for all devices so customers can easily view it wherever they are.

Use images

Choose two or three professional images to incorporate into your online menu. They don’t need to be right next to the item. They don’t even need to be images of particular dishes on your menu. Wherever you choose to place them on the page, even one or two images of your dining area or fresh ingredients can say a lot about your quality.

Images also make sharing your menu on social networks more effective. (tweet this)

The image thumbnail will show up when you or your customers post the menu link on Facebook. It’s much better than posting a link with only text.

Use photos tastefully, and descriptive language and strong titles to tell the rest.

Need ideas on photographing your restaurant and food like a pro? Check out these tips from photographer Michael Cavotta.

Keep it simple

Restaurant Menu Upsell

Bonus: Online menus could lead to upsells.

A simple menu design that’s easy to read and interact with is key. I’ve found menus that get every item on one page are best. If you offer more than one, it is good to split up menus according to breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Use a clear font, and a layout that’s easy to scan through.

Adding hyperlinks can help simplify your menu. Allow customers to click through on each item for a more detailed description.

An interesting bit of menu psychology – removing the $ from your prices has proven to be an effective way to boost orders. The dollar sign reminds customers that they’re spending money, while the number by itself is a more abstract value. Consider leaving out the $ from your listed prices.

Add a call to action

An online menu with “order it” buttons next to each item encourages your customers to take action. Add these to boost online orders.

Also add your phone number and address on every menu page. Customers should be able to quickly decide what they want, pick up the phone, and order without having to navigate through your site.

Social media buttons can also build customer loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. I love how Blue Lagoon Seafood keeps their menu simple while incorporating social media. They list all items on one page, then add social media buttons to each menu item when you click on the title.

If your website uses social media icons on the top or button navigation bar, this is a great way to involve your customers.

Try adding calls to action like “Follow us on Twitter” or “Review us on TripAdvisor” to direct more customers to your social media.

Update frequently

Something that really frustrates online customers? Calling to order an item, only to find out it’s no longer offered.

This is something that could even permanently turn customers away.

Keep your online menu current. With a website supported by Restaurant Engine, updating your menu page is easy.

Photos by YourStudio and Phys.org

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