Menu Design – Karen Marten

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.41.40 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.41.46 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.42.21 AMConfession: Occasionally I watch a trashy “reality” TV show called Bar Rescue. I’m not proud of it. But, I actually learned something from it that I can now relay to real life, so at least there’s that. The narrator of the show fixes up run down bars and when he re-designs the menus with what he repeatedly calls “menu science” it was noted that the highest profit margin items should be drawing the attention somehow. This menu, from Foodology and designed by Somewhere Else, does just that by placing the additions in a red box in the corner, your eye immediately takes note and before you’ve even made up your mind you are considering the add-on option.  The negative space makes it clear what the headlines are, as well as a clear color hierarchy. The red headlines catch the eye first and the blue menu item names are an obvious second choice to look at. Leaving the descriptions in black is a nice option as well because it keeps the necessary explanations intact without an obvious attempt at looking innovative. The sans-serif font, paired with basic colors portrays a modern look. There is a grid involved. The space is split into what appears to be the rule of thirds. The headlines for food types are aligned in the center and the food items are aligned right, this is successful and does not distract from the intention of the menu.

Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.41.28 AM Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 12.41.18 AMThe Paradise Creek Brewery Menu is very hard to read. The lack of hierarchy is obvious because when you look at it your eye doesn’t have anywhere to rest, with few exceptions. On the first page one could think that “Pub Pretzel” is a header, and the other appetizers below it are Pub Pretzels as well. There is also a lack of an established grid on the second page. I think the creator was attempting to make a modern visualization for the menu but in that quest s/he forgot about usability. The font for the headlines are too light and too small, although they are interesting to look at, they also lack readability. There are too many fonts that contrast too greatly for this menu to be successful. The main point of a menu is to relay information and this one does not do that successfully. The lack of a grid makes it even harder to read than the mismatched fonts. The middle alignment on the first page would be nice if all the prices at the end of each line matched up and if the right alignment stayed the same. It is an interesting choice to have the sides in the middle of the page and surrounded in a bold box, and while I do think it is nice for people to see what sides are available despite not wanting a burger or sandwich, the bold box is overwhelming and unnecessary. I also think the layout of food types was poorly designed, soups and salads commonly go together so people would be expecting that, and I don’t think people need to know who the head chef, bartender and brewmaster is (at least not before they’ve chosen an entrée).

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