I read an article a few days ago titled “8 Psychological Tricks of Restaurant Menus”. Actually, it was well written and made some great points, but I thought it was very strange because it took what seems like a view opposite of what I have been practicing and teaching for decades. It made me believe the author was trying to protect restaurant customers from the tricks evil menu engineers like me play on them. The 8 “tricks” we use are 1. We limit your options, 2. We add photos, 3. We manipulate prices, 4. We use expensive decoys, 5. We play with your eyes, 6. We utilize colors, 7. We use fancy language and, 8. We make you feel nostalgic. If these 8 tactics are evil then I confess, I am evil because I have been using them and many more for a long time.
Every business person has to communicate what they have to offer their customers in the best manner they can in order to compete successfully. Their customers want to know as much as they can about it. If a restaurant has crappy food and they make it look great they will not be in business long anyway. The same is true of a retailer misrepresenting their products.
It has been proven many times that the way you show food items or retail items on a menu has a huge impact on sales and profit margin. All the following items are important: photography, words used, layout design, prices, what items you put on them, colors, letter style, the total number of items, size of copy and where specific items are placed on the menu. Even where and how signs and menu boards are installed is important.
Let me know if you need help with your menu design but be warned. I may be evil!