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  • Writer's picture Scott Fitzgibbon

Basing menu design evolution on rapid customer feedback for Cargo Lounge

Cargo Lounge is an independent bistro/coffee shop based in Broadstone, who like most small businesses are focused on the delivery of an amazing service and a warm comfortable family friendly driven environment.

Over 6 months ago, together we started to look at the power of menu design and the importance of a menu to the customers that frequent the bistro. It's always easy to forget that the humble menu is an important part of the dining experience, as well a huge opportunity to push your brand messaging to a focused individual.

The original design

Cargo lounge menu
Cargo lounge old menu

The original design was simple A4 with clearly defined sections. However no longer reflective of the new branding implemented.

Some rules of menu design

There are many theories on menu design and placement of items. Including...

  • ensure that highest priced items should are placed first (well most profitable)

  • place items you wish to sell more of towards the top left of a menu and items that are less of a focus on the right

  • always be aware that readers will typically pick in a hurry and the eye travels to the top left and middle left of any menu design

  • Also the biggest rule, minimise your options and don't overcomplicate your menu, people can always ask for variations.

First round of customer feedback

As a quick test, we created a very rough example of how a new menu could be devised and share that with customers in the bistro, friends and colleagues to gauge their initial thoughts. The reaction to change was very positive, as Cargo Lounge had a range of menus from drinks, vegan, vegetarian, kids and standard menu. So the premise was to simplify this down to two menu options.

The following designs were completed based on the feedback. These were increased in size to A3 for the standard menu to help people read the options clearly, as many said the A4 designs lead to the text size being difficult to read, and the vegan/vegetarian menu increased to A4.

Second round of customer feedback

The new menus were launched based on the theories mentioned earlier. Which was met with an extremely positive reaction from the customers. This helped complete the change in direction for the bistro, when combined with updates to the signage, website and the furniture upgrades/arrangements with the location.

Most people would stop at this point and refocus on other aspects of the business. However the menus are element is key to the Cargo Lounge business and could not be underplayed. The menus were printed in a short run and used for a month to gain more insights, to see the effects of the menu items placements.

The effects were clear to see

They were selling more items that they "wanted" to sell, with the higher profit items starting to overtake some of the more standard items featured on the menu, plus customers liked the playfulness of the messaging and way the items were described. The biggest issue came from the sizing and having two menus (although the number of menus were reduced from before). The increase to A3 was positive but not when you have to hold an A4 alternative for Vegan/Vegetarian options. So the instant decision was to revisit the menu. Reduce the number of items featured and to combine the menus, whilst remaining clear and concise. Which brings its own challenges, when a business caters for meals at any time of the day.

The "final' design

I say "final", as it's never going to be the final design, as menus evolve, change and react to the customer and customer trends. More importantly it is now part of Cargo Lounges continued thoughts to analyse the effects of their menu. Ensure that their business remains strong, customers return on a regular basis and that just importantly their out-going personalities are shown through their brand, bringing delight to the customers.

If you own a business that requires customers to select items from a menu or selection of services get it touch and we can develop your offer to help maximise your profits and customer delight.

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