Digital menu boards offer an environmentally conscious alternative to printed menus. They are versatile and efficient, especially for a restaurant whose menu changes often.
A digital menu offers ways to cut printing costs and waste while still allowing for rotating dishes and specials.
Who should use digital menu boards?
Digital menus are optimal for casual restaurants with counter service or for food trucks because they can provide one menu for the whole line of ordering customers.
There are a variety of benefits to using a digital menu board.
A digital menu board allows you to update your menu while reducing paper waste and printing costs.
Direct your customer’s eye
GIFs, bright images, sliding banners, and colorful highlights can all be put to good use on a digital menu to draw the eye where you want it to go.
Attract attention outside
A digital menu outside your restaurant is more eye-catching than a paper menu hung next to your door. It can also be kept on 24/7, giving your menu maximum visibility.
If your menus change on a schedule (say, fish-and-chips on a Friday, the rotation of daily soup offerings, or a breakfast to lunch shift) you can save time by setting your menu to automatically switch.
Pros of digital menu boards
What sets digital menus apart from other displays? Chalkboards or whiteboards are a low-tech way to provide an easily changeable menu for your counter. But they aren’t ideal if you want to include images to match your food. Another limitation is that handwritten boards depend on someone with legible handwriting to maintain them; they can take quite a bit of time to change; and can’t be kept outside in bad weather.
Printed menus can complete the same task, but the expense of reprinting daily, or even weekly, can quickly add up to more than the initial investment of a digital menu board.
Digital menu boards for restaurants can showcase daily specials, featured dishes, deals, or seasonal offers in addition to the regular menu. You can add several images and have them rotate, drawing the eye to particular items. When designing a digital menu, remember to be careful to give your customer enough time to read through any text. If you have several images looping in succession, be sure that they are large images conveying one idea, something easy to take in at a glance. The standard menu should be static and easily read.
Something to read: Wait times seem shorter
Social dining: Include hashtags or recent social media posts
Screen to screen: Match menu branding with your website
Instant updates: For when you run out or remove an item
Cons of digital menu boards
Despite the many benefits of digital menu boards, there are some things to keep in mind before jumping in with both feet. Digital menu boards are a big up-front expense, especially if you have more than one storefront to outfit. If you don’t have the extra money to invest right away, you may choose to forgo something this expensive in favor of something more immediately affordable.
Digital menus also require maintenance. Some may require more frequent maintenance than others, especially depending on how much money you have to invest initially. Additionally, if the board is down for the day you may find yourself having to keep a set of paper menus or a whiteboard on hand.
Any casual restaurant owner with counter service should consider whether a digital menu is a fit for them. There are plenty of third parties a quick search away that are ready to help with design and provide the software necessary to start and maintain a digital menu in your restaurant. Consider the unique possibilities afforded to you when you include a digital element to your menu.
Design best practices
When looking to implement digital menu board software there are many choices to consider. What do you want your customers to see first? What colors and fonts can be easily read at a distance? Pictures should be used sparingly, so what images do you want to include?
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