By now you have seen the use of mobile menus everywhere. Mostly these are opened by scanning a QR code at the table, which then loads a PDF on your mobile device. This saves the restaurant paper and there is no touching or handling of menus, which keeps everyone safer.
However, the user experience diverges quickly from here. While some restaurant menus are easy to navigate, others require a constant pinch zoom and random search. Similarly, you may also have large PDF download sizes, which consume patron data-allocations and may freeze devices.
In short, mobile menus require a different approach to make the user experience match the medium. Small changes in your menu design can have a big impact on your patrons happiness. After all, you would like for them to re-open the menu and order dessert, wouldn’t you?
You would like for them to re-open the menu and order a dessert, wouldn’t you?
Here are seven tips to make your restaurant menu more mobile friendly.
1. Rethink Images and Photos Sizes and Quality
Large images cause large PDFs file-sizes, which in turn make for unhappy users.
Images can add color and character to a menu, but in the realm of mobile and PDF, we have to look at what image quality is used. While your commercial printer would tell you that 300dpi professional photos are the goal, for web consumption this is overkill. You will get the same impact with lower resolution images at 96dpi. Moreover, images quickly add to the size of the PDF file, which you should try to keep small.
2. Use a Narrow Vertical Orientation
In a physical restaurant different paper formats and width for menus add to the customer experience. Thus, restaurants frequently experiment with the layouts. However, this does not translate to a mobile menu.
A horizontally arranged mobile menu causes a lot of side scrolling and pinch and zooms. This is not the “natural” way on a mobile device and frustrates users. You want to provide the user what they expect, so they can quickly navigate all options.
3. Arrange Vertically Without Fear
Similarly to choosing a vertical orientation, remember that you will not run out of paper. So you can create very long vertical list that show your patrons all your offerings.
You are not printing this, so keep adding your items. Your users are already trained to scroll up and down on websites so the experience will be more “natural” to them.
Possible layouts that work well in vertical mode are tiles and lists. Tile-layouts can help you organize many images and list-layouts can summarize a lot of information easily. Of course, as long as you stay vertical, you can play with any arrangement that works for you.
4. Think Through Fonts
Each font you add to your PDF can increase its size. Also, some fonts that are easy to read on paper will become hard to read when pushed on a small screen.
Thus, you still want to find the font that best represents your brand, but maybe stick to standard fonts for everything else.
5. High Contrast is a Winner
Many times people are using their phones in low light conditions. Having colors and design elements that are soft or embedded in backgrounds are difficult to see on a small screen. They may also hide your actual menu items.
You want to look at using high contrast colors and remove unnecessary backgrounds and fillers. Flat design, which was a design principle popularized by Apple for mobile, tends to work well here as well.
6. Compress Your PDFs
PDFs are flexible and can contain a lot of data. Much of it is not needed for your mobile experience. Before uploading, you should compress them to remove non-needed elements and reduce others when possible. If you have access to the Adobe PDF tools, you can do so on your desktop. Or, you can use online services like:
Many times you will find that your files can be reduced to a fraction of their original size, which is a big boost for user experience.
7. Show off your PDF Skills
PDFs are very versatile and universally readable across many devices. Many times only a small set of features is used. You can, however, enhance them further and make your menus easier to navigate. For example, you can create table of contents, add title tags, and/or add internal links that will help your patrons navigate between appetizers, entrees, and deserts easily. There is more here and you might consider hiring some help to enhance your menu once you have the base design.
Need a Hand?
As part of our community COVID support we, at XcooBee, have helped many restaurants to host their QR menus. We do this free of charge. Just email us a menu to firstname.lastname@example.org (we respond quickly so please don’t forget to check your spam folder especially with Google mail accounts). As part of the hosting and upload process we do some of the optimizations for embedded images and fonts. Moreover, we add the menu to our content-delivery network which distributes and caches the menus globally. This allows patrons super quick downloads.
Of course more can be done, including order enabling your PDFs and print-activating them. For example, once activated, patrons could place take-out orders directly from your PDF menu. Simply reach out to XcooBee if you like to learn and explore more.