The sooner you start treating your restaurant menu as an influential salesperson, the better. A growing body of research suggests there is a science to menu design, and if you tap into those principles you can sway your customers’ buying decisions and enhance their dining experience. To some, the psychology of menu design shouldn’t be ignored—unless profit margins and repeat business are things you feel lukewarm about. Menu engineer Greg Rapp claims strategic design techniques, like plopping a mouth-watering picture alongside your food item, can boost sales by 30 percent. A New York Times article reports that some restaurants “may place a really expensive item at the top of the menu, so that other dishes look more reasonably priced.”
The thought of learning menu engineering may send some busy restaurant operators quaking in their boots—particularly those inexperienced in graphic design or restaurant branding. But there’s a number of menu design software to help you avoid getting sucked down a black hole of fonts, image edits, and effective layouts.
6 Menu Design Software Programs Worth Checking Out
An effective menu design should communicate the brand, the vision, and the appropriate guest experience your establishment offers. Here are some of our favorite menu design software programs that promise to do just that.
Price: Free plan available, or $12.95 per team member/month
If you can boil water, you can create a perfectly branded restaurant menu with Canva. Its extensive library of beautiful menu design layouts make pairing spicy sentences with stock food images a simple task. Canva’s features are convenient, too, thanks to free iPhone, iPad, and Android apps accessible online and via mobile devices. Yes, it’s free to use, but Canva’s best feature is its ability to create related marketing materials (flyers, social media posts, and coupons) with the same theme as your menu. Perfect for growing your audience.
2. Design Bold
Price: Free plan available, or $19/month for pro plan
Design Bold is similar to Canva, giving restaurant operators menu-design tools to create something beautiful. The pre-made templates are user-friendly and a free subscription offers access to free stock images, editing tools, automatic resizing, and PNG, JPG, and PDF download outputs. An extra $19 per month unlocks Design Bold’s Pro package, which includes premium stock photos and additional storage to handle future customizations right in your online portfolio as your needs change.
3. Adobe Spark
Price: Free plan available, or up to $19.99/month
Adobe software is a popular choice among graphic designers, illustrators, and artists, so why not benefit from its premier design features? With the help of Adobe Spark, you won’t need any design or programming skills to create a pleasing menu that resonates with customers. Stunning typography and imagery set this free menu design software apart from its competition. Your customers will notice the difference. A small fee is required if you wish to replace Adobe’s watermark with your own logo. But it may be worth it, considering Adobe Spark will integrate your logo on everything you create, from web pages to menu designs to original graphics.
Though Poster My Wall has a perfectly adequate free service for menu design, some restaurant operators may want its premium subscription to create something a little more striking. Its restaurant menu maker is intuitive and the templates are clean and original. For around $100 a year, operators with zero design experience secure discounted pricing every time they require a large number of downloads, say, for a hefty stack of seasonal menus. They also gain access to premium stock photos at no additional cost.
Business owners without a large budget for menu design will love iMenuPro. As one of the OG menu design software options out there, the time-tested program was built specifically for menus. Start with ready-made templates, then customize to the dimensions of your brand. A drag and drop feature allows you to quickly choose fonts, logos, and graphics. Have daily specials? A list of food items can be stored in your iMenuPro database, which is accessible across all PCs, MACs, and tablets. This makes designing a menu around rotating specials and last-minute substitutions a breeze.
Price: Professional packages start at $199/menu page or $29/month for DIY design
If time is not on your side (it rarely is for busy restaurant operators), enlisting the help of a menu design pro from Must Have Menus is an option. The experts will transform your item descriptions and requests into a unique restaurant menu in a matter of days. The packages start at $199 per page and go up to $1,199 for three complete menus (dine-in, takeout, and table tents). Of course, DIY design is another more cost-efficient option you can complete in just five steps. With all services, Must Have Menus allows you to highlight important dishes in boxes for added emphasis, another restaurant industry sales tactic.
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