When it comes to the content that’s used on a digital menu board, many times it’s felt that video and animation are the best use of space and that they will attract the customers’ eyes. It is the best way to interact with them. Well is that really the case?
Sometimes it can actually present a speed bump in the whole ordering process. People want to get in, order their food, and get it quickly. Video and animation can slow that process down. Here’s something that we’ve noticed with some QSR’s. They will have the regular menu board items displayed, then suddenly the whole menu board will change out to a video promotion or advertisement. Once that’s over, the regular menu boards will reappear.
Now put yourself in the customers’ shoes. Here they trying to order their items, and maybe they have kids with them and they’ve got to get them to soccer practice. Perhaps there are other people in line, and now they have to wait for an advertisement to be over with to continue ordering. Really, that can hinder the whole ordering process and certainly is very frustrating.
When designing menu board content, one of the first things you should take into consideration is the customer. What do they really want? They want to be able to order quickly, and you certainly don’t want to do anything with your menu boards that would hinder that process.
To keep up to date with our latest Classroom videos and tutorials please subscribe to our YouTube Channel.
Watch a video of this blog.
Moving food is not what most of us want. But we are not referring to something you might see on a TV show about extreme diets or survivalist conditions where people have to eat grubs, beetles, or worms. Rather, let’s discuss QSR’s and digital menu boards.
In a QSR, the most important thing is to move food from behind the counter out to the customer. You want to be able to do that in a fast and efficient way. A great tool that we now have are digital menu boards. You see this cropping up all over the place. Many people view digital menu boards as nothing more than glorified televisions. They figure, “Well, it should have video and animation on it because it is a TV”. Is playing videos and commercials the best use of menu board space?
The number one argument that we get is, “Video attracts the eye. It makes people want to look up at the menu boards.” If you’ve ever been in a QSR before you already know where to look when you want to order food. When people walk in, they may look at the seating arrangement or maybe use the restroom, but when they come up to the counter, the first thing their eyes are fixed on is the menu boards. Usually they’re not even making eye contact with whoever is taking the order because they’re busy reading from the screens.
So video and animation to catch the eye of the customer really isn’t necessary. Actually it can be a poor use of the space on the digital menu boards. We will examine this further in our continuing series of How To: Move Food In a QSR With Digital Menu Boards.
“I’m remodeling the kids’ room. May I get a gallon of lead-based paint, please?”
Before 1978, lead-based paint was deemed to be good practice and a great value. Now, in the US, a company can be fined and possibly face criminal charges for failure to comply with regulations regarding removal and disclosure of lead-based paint.
Why? Because we are now aware of the unintended, yet harmful health effects. Today, how would you react if you overheard someone asking the above question? They must be joking, or have no concern for the well-being of their children.
In like manner, it has become standard in the digital signage industry to promote video as the ultimate medium for reaching customers. Conventional “wisdom” says it’s good practice and gets the best value out of your signage. This is because many choose to ignore the harmful side effects video has upon customers.
For example, imagine yourself in a store. You notice a TV suspended from the ceiling near the checkout area. It’s playing a video. What instantly comes to mind?
“Hey, there is going to be some interesting information I really need to know.”
Nope. Most likely it’s, “Oh no! It’s a commercial.” You make the association between a TV showing video and being sold to. You quickly turn away. That’s what customers do.
At Noventri, we embrace the universal truth that people hate watching commercials and will avoid them at every opportunity. How could we, in good conscience, tout the effectiveness of video in digital signage applications? We cannot. We do not. It is a source of pride to stand up for the truth.
Despite these facts, the geeks and crooks of the digital signage industry continue to push “lead paint” as best practice.
“You must have video to have great signage!”
Or “Using lead makes for superior paints!”
A new coat of paint does brighten a room, makes it feel warm, clean, and inviting. Digital signage has the same effect. Isn’t everyone much better off without the lead and video?
Digital or not, menu boards need to be attractive and above all, they need to work. For QSRs (Quick Service Restaurants), Fast Casual restaurants and C-Stores (Convenience Stores), much effort and time is dedicated to designing the decor and overall restaurant or store presentation. This same diligence should carry over into menu design.
Here are six often-overlooked tips for planning and designing great digital menu boards:
- Simplicity - Menu boards should be simple, never cluttered. Text should be easily read from distances typical of customers waiting in lines as well as customers that are at the counter ordering.
- NO Movement – Digital menu boards are, well, digital. This means video or animation could be used within menu content, but not recommended. Customers should never be blindsided by flashy motion and video that detracts from reading and selecting menu items.
- Zones or Frames – A customer’s attention can be drawn to a particular food item by featuring that item within an assigned zone or frame. This works especially well for ‘sweet spots’ within the menu design. Always keep in mind proper spacing and never overcrowd a menu.
- Fonts - Using various font styles can be an effective means of creating ‘eye magnets’, but there are limits! Never use more than four different font styles, otherwise the customer’s eyes will never rest in any one area.
- Gaze Motion or Eye Movement Patterns – These are patterns of eye movement that can be altered or fixed by eye magnets. Eye magnets are graphic design techniques that attract the eye (example: highlighted text, larger or bolder text, food illustrations and photos, etc.)
- Screens – With digital menu boards, size matters. Menus need to be seen from distances as well as up close. Another consideration is screen presentation. Will they be horizontal or vertical? Will they be framed, hung from ceilings or wall mounted? Will they need surrounds?
One topic not discussed here is color. In most cases colors follow the established corporate colors. Using corporate specified colors allows menus to blend into the surroundings, reinforces the brand and provides what is truly needed, a means for customers to make menu selections.
Are there other menu design tips you would like to share? Post them here.
Thanks to Noventri Digital Menu boards attendees of The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) will be able to happily select their choice of free subs at the Quiznos booth this coming week. Noventri will be at the show held October 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Noventri, the official provider of digital menu boards for Quiznos will be present in the Quiznos booth (#2941) providing digital menus at the food counter located in the booth. Attendees will see, first hand, why Noventri is a success in the menu board industry.
“Quiznos is offering free subs at the show,” says Andrew Hoffman, VP at Noventri. “This is a great opportunity for show attendees to not only see our menu boards in action, but spend some time getting answers about menu boards and why Quiznos chose Noventri as their exclusive digital menu board provider.”
Noventri is a full-service provider of digital signage solutions for such names as ARAMARK, Marriott, Java City, Papa Johns, Green Turtle, Dunkin’ Donuts, Hard Times Cafe and numerous stadiums, arenas, convention centers and hotels worldwide.