My mother in law is opening a little breakfast and lunch cafe in Panama City, Florida. Being that I teach a digital graphics class, she asked if my students could design a menu for her. Real world application is about as high level as learning can get so I developed a rubric and after giving them some tips about good design, I let them get to work.*
The more questions the kids asked the more it got me to thinking about menus. So at the risk of having most of you leave this post while reading this sentence, I’ve decided to rant a little about menus.
Menu’s help make first impressions. And the only way for a restaurant to make an impression is to be readable. As I tell my students, fonts have a voice and choosing the right one will help give a restaurant a voice. Restaurants should stay away from overly decorative fonts. Also restaurants should also stay away from Comic Sans (unless it’s a comic book restaurant). Also, restaurants need to stay away from Papyrus unless you are serving ancient Egyptian or Roman food. Either nice block letters or an elegant script font is all a restaurant needs.
Menu length is important and in this case size does matter but in that smaller is better. When I get a book for a menu, I know I’m not getting a very good meal. It might be ok, but there is no way a restaurant can serve that many things well. One page menus, in my experience, usually mean better food. You see this all the time on Kitchen Nightmares and Restaurant: Impossible. Less is always more.
However, a menu that is one page but filled with type is not the answer either. The brain needs negative space to help keep order. The brain also needs hierarchy. Don’t make the description in the same size font as the name of the dish.
There is one thing that I hate seeing on menus besides all milk-based desserts: Advertisements. I want to order off a menu not a newspaper. If a restaurant needs to resort to doing that, then maybe they should take a long look at their menu and do some editing.
What do you think?
*When the winning menu is finalized, I’ll post it on here.
**For the people who do read this blog, we would like to apologize for the lack of posts lately. ; We will be doing our best to update more regularly.