Welcome to the digital age of dining! As a restaurant or food truck owner, you’re always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience. One effective strategy: Stop using traditional printed menus and static menu boards, and instead, create a digital menu.
Digital menu boards offer numerous advantages over static boards. For one, they’re dynamic (which is especially useful for food trucks). If you have to 86 an entree, a digital menu board allows you to adjust your menu without having to tell customers over and over that you aren’t serving it at the moment.
Another advantage: Creating digital menu boards enables you to better engage customers, adding images and calls to action, to drive sales to particular items.
The biggest challenge in making your own digital menus, then, is getting started. If you’ve never used digital signage, the process can seem daunting. This guide will help you create a digital menu for your restaurant or food truck. We’re covering why you should use them, what tools you’ll need to create them, and the best design tips for making digital menus.
Why Switch to Digital Menu Boards?
Traditional static boards or printed menus are easier to produce and cheaper (at least initially). However, in the long-term printed and static menus can get in the way. The biggest: A traditional board limits your flexibility. If you want to introduce a new menu item, you’ll have to repaint menu signage.
Additionally, traditional menus don’t engage customers. Although you can add chalked design elements, you can’t use tools like video, moving text, or images to draw the eye and wow your customers.
Switching to digital menu boards can effectively address these issues. Key advantages include:
- Dynamic Updates – Update your menus in real-time and make instant menu changes. The flexibility is especially helpful for promoting rotating specials, adjusting prices, or removing sold-out items. This is one of the key benefits of restaurant digital signage.
- Customer Engagement – Digital menu boards allow you to create vibrant displays with rotating content and multimedia. These menus capture attention, and they can help your customers better engage with your menu items.
- Clarity and Legibility – If you follow digital signage design best practices, you can create menu boards that clearly display your items and categories, and you can use visual cues to make it more appealing and easier to navigate.
How Do You Create a Digital Menu? What Do You Need?
If you need to implement a digital menu system, there’s a variety of tools that make the process simple. However, you’ll need time to choose software and hardware, install them and design your menus.
How Do Digital Menus Work?
Digital menu boards work by connecting a screen to a computer or media player. In the past, these were wired connections, but now many digital signage players are wireless. From a computer, you can access the design and management tools.
This dashboard allows you to schedule content, manage updates, and change your design. These management tools also allow you to automate the process, e.g. automatically changing from a lunch to dinner menu at a set time, or turning off the system at the end of the day.
Here’s a more detailed look at the steps required to get a system up and running:
- Choose the Right Software: The first step is to select a digital menu board software that suits your needs. Look for user-friendly design software that allows you to easily create, update, and schedule your digital menus. We offer FTx AdPro (our digital signage design tool), which is free with our digital signage management platform FTx Digital Signage.
- Select Your Hardware: Choose a high-quality digital screen that fits your space and budget. Consider factors like size, resolution, and durability. In addition to your screen, you’ll need a computer to manage the software, as well as a digital signage player.
- Install Your Screen: You may need to hire a professional for this step, especially if you need to install multiple screens or if your venue has specific installation requirements.
- Set Up Your Software: Once your screen is installed, it’s time to set up your digital signage software. This involves uploading your menu items, designing your layout (or using a template to get started), and scheduling your content. AdPro offers numerous templates and step-by-step guides to help you out.
- Update Regularly: Keep your menu fresh and relevant by regularly updating it with new items, specials, and seasonal offerings. Use day-parting tools to automate menu changes throughout the day.
>>> Need some more help? See our guide: How to Choose the Right Digital Signage Software.
Top 5 Design Tips for Creating Effective Digital Menus
Creating a visually appealing and effective digital menu board is both an art and a science. It requires a balance of aesthetics, readability, and strategic content placement. You can easily overdo it, add too much information, and overwhelm customers. Here are a few tips for creating effective digital menus:
- Make It Readable: Your digital menu should be easy to read from a distance. Choose clear, legible fonts and ensure your text size is large enough. Avoid using overly decorative fonts that may be difficult to read.
- Use High-Quality Images: Images can be a powerful tool to entice customers. Use high-quality, realistic images of your dishes. However, don’t overcrowd your menu with images. Balance is key.
- Keep It Simple: A cluttered menu can be overwhelming. Keep your design clean and simple. Use white space effectively to separate different sections of your menu.
- Consistent Branding: Your digital menu should reflect your brand’s identity. Use your brand’s color scheme and fonts. This not only enhances your menu’s aesthetic appeal but also reinforces your brand.
- Strategic Content Placement: Place your best-selling or high-profit items in areas that naturally draw the eye, such as the top right corner of the screen. This technique, known as ‘menu engineering’, can help boost sales of specific dishes.
Special Considerations for Food Truck Digital Menus
Operating a food truck presents unique challenges, but digital menus can be a game-changer. They allow for quick menu changes, which is essential in a setting where inventory can fluctuate rapidly. Plus, a vibrant digital display can help your food truck stand out at a crowded farmer’s market or festival.
Here are some key benefits of digital menus for food trucks:
- Dynamic Updates: With the ability to update menus in real-time, you can easily indicate sold-out items, reducing customer disappointment and streamlining orders.
- Energy Efficiency: Modern digital screens are energy-efficient, which is crucial for food trucks operating on limited power resources.
- Space Saving: Digital menus eliminate the need for physical menu boards, saving valuable space in the compact food truck environment.
- Attract More Customers: A bright, engaging digital menu can draw in customers from a distance, helping you stand out in busy food truck parks or events.
What About Technical Requirements?
As for the technical setup, food trucks can use a cloud-based digital menu platform to use digital signs anywhere. This can be done through Wi-Fi or mobile data, depending on the digital signage software you choose.
Powering your digital menu board can be achieved through your food truck’s existing power supply. Many food trucks use generators or have access to external power sources at the locations where they operate. That’s why it’s important to choose an energy-efficient digital screen and to factor in its power usage when planning your food truck’s energy needs.
Remember, while the initial setup may require some planning and investment, the benefits of a digital menu can significantly enhance your food truck’s operations and customer experience.
How Will You Use Digital Menus In Your Restaurant?
Transitioning to a digital menu board is a strategic move that can revolutionize your restaurant or food truck business.
And it’s never been easier, thanks to helpful cloud-based design tools and affordable hardware options (like cost-effective smart TVs and signage players). Although the set-up can seem daunting, a digital menu will change the way you communicate with customers and can be a powerful tool for driving sales.
Need some help getting started? The team at FTx Digital Signage is here to help you start. Contact us for a demo today or to learn more about installation and set-up. Our team can help you get up and running in no time!