The location of your menu items is important, and can be easily used to your advantage.
When it comes to menu layout, it’s the upper right hand corner that takes prime real estate. Here in the western world, people typically read from left to right and although a menu isn’t read exactly like a book, it’s still subconsciously skimmed over from top to bottom - left to right. When a customer first sits down and glances at the page in front of them, their eye tends to lead them to that top right corner before anywhere else. That’s the best spot to place either a high priced item, specialty dish, or a customer favorite. Of course this depends on the format of your menu, if you have the items listed vertically down the center, then consider the top third portion of your menu the highest value.
Secondly, after the prime positions have been glanced over, the customer goes back to their normal reading pattern and generally shifts back to the left hand side. This is where the “starters” are usually placed, the top few items in the column will get the extra attention here.
Create a New Focal Point
Although there are areas of the menu that are subconsciously best for placement, that doesn’t mean you can’t intentionally draw the eye elsewhere. Choosing one or two dishes to highlight in different areas of the page can be even more effective, and a great way to break up the design if done right. You can put a box around the item or category, play around with the fonts or just alter the color to make them stand out. How you feature them depends on the overall style of the menu and at the discretion of the designer.
Be Careful with Images
Go big or go home when it comes to this category. If you do decide to incorporate pictures on the menu, make sure they are done by a professional photographer and used with care. Otherwise, you’re better off avoiding them altogether. They should add to your menu, not distract from it.
Get Creative with Typography
Choosing the right typography is a great way to make your menu dynamic and fun.. or upscale and elegant… or grungy and hip. Whatever style you’re looking to identify with, typography not only serves the purpose of selling your menu, but can be used as a main art component. Of course, keeping readability in mind, be careful with script and over-stylized type. Use them as headers rather than menu items and descriptions.
Use a Grid System
It’s important for customers to easily identify the different sections on a menu, and skim through in a logical, cohesive way. For designers, using a grid system is a simple way to make sure the menu is organized and lined up properly. Other design elements such as lines and boxes can even be added to make the separation more apparent and add a more visual effect, though not necessary if there’s enough space between sections.