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Restaurant Menu Design

January 27th, 2015

Psychological tricks to make us order more

Restaurants have a tough time inventing new exciting dishes that are delicious. Restauranteurs need to proudly promote their Restauranteurs need to promote their signature dishes and make their diners’ experiences all the more enjoyable with a menu that reflects the quality of their meal.  As a diner our eyes flick around the menu like a pinball, pinging between sharing platters options, starters and the dish of the day. Do I want to pick from the healthy option or indulge in the comforting treats? What’s good value? Will my dinner companion be tucking into my delicious meal rather then their lean dish? Oh God, here comes the waiter.




Top & Tail
A menu’s costliest choice is prominently placed to ensure that it will be one of the first prices diners read. People have an inexact sense of value but are acutely sensitive to contrasts. The highest price makes the adjacent cheaper options seem more reasonably priced than they would otherwise. Diners are also subject to “extremeness aversion”. They shy away from the most expensive item or the least expensive, for that matter. The mid range priced dishes are probably popular choices just because they’re not the most expensive. Likewise, the second most expensive bottle on a wine list tends to be a top seller.


The ‘for two’ items cater to the psychology of couples having romantic dinners. The 25-minute preparation time and the sharing make it seem like a special event. Couples are among the least price-sensitive consumers (who wants to look cheap on a date?) and have more things on their minds than maths. The price is given per person, but many will forget to double it.


Size Matters
The practice of offering items in sizes has the allure of discounts and usually increases orders. The smaller portions make you feel you’ve saved money… and calories.


The eyes are drawn to boxes, and diners are statistically more likely to order whatever is inside them. Restaurants reserve them for profitable items or dishes the chef wants to promote.


Justified Price
When prices are printed in neatly, right-justified columns, diners glance down the column to compare prices. We recommend a centred justification that leaves the prices scattered, this gently encourages the diner to order what they want, instead of picking the cheapest price. One other approach to minimise the attention to cost? Simply omit the pound signs from the prices.


Diners Delight

People are more likely to order something with a description than without it. Though overused, “caramelised” has mesmeric power. We recommend unfamiliar terms: not sure what a “Soupe à L’oignon” is? Why not order it to find out…

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