Restaurant menu

Does your restaurant menu have to contain photos?

There are pros and cons to weigh.

We’ve all heard the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but does that apply to menu design? Studies show that including an image with a menu item can increase sales of that item, but does that mean every restaurant should rely on images to sell their food over text descriptions?

Ultimately, it depends on the restaurant. There is no single standard for the industry. Many fast food restaurants choose to display an image with each food option. However, upscale and expensive restaurants usually forgo photos on their menu entirely. Why is that?

So, in deciding whether or not your menu should contain photos, you should consider the following pros and cons and assess the overall atmosphere you are trying to create in your restaurant.

The benefits of adding photos to your menu

Attract the attention of your customers

Words will never be able to replicate the feeling associated with staring at a mouthwatering image of your favorite food. This visual stimulation and connection with a food on a menu makes us salivate while also getting excited about the food we are about to eat. Likewise, a well-written description can dance that line and attract customers, but it cannot replace the stimulation and connection produced by an image.

Displaying your food in all its glory throughout your menu will also make a great first impression, starting your connection with your customers as soon as they see your menu. When a food photo is taken correctly, it excites customers, making them eager to try the delicious food.

This makes it easier for the customer to choose

The menus are full of options and it can be difficult for customers to choose between menu items. Using pictures can help make this decision easier. When customers see a picture of something, they’re more likely to experience that tantalizing sense of connection. Therefore, they will be more likely to choose a menu item accompanied by a photo, as it causes more feelings of hunger and stimulation.

These photos give customers more information, showing them precisely what they’ll get if they choose to order that particular dish. Without a picture it is unknown, and why would they want to choose an unknown rather than something they can visualize?

The ability to highlight sales and promotions

When customers are more drawn to menu items with images attached, you can use this to your advantage. Highlight the menu items you want to sell more or add images of improved dishes. Instead of showing a regular salad, show a salad that has been improved with chicken. By using image placement to your advantage, you can increase sales of specific items.

Another good example is a dish that you have to sell a certain amount of, such as freshly caught fish. To make sure the dish gets enough attention to keep it on the menu, you would want to add a photo to encourage customers to order it.

The cons of adding photos to your menu

Professional quality food photography is a challenge

If you are not a professional photographer, you may find it difficult to capture the perfect image for your menu. Without a professional photographer and food stylist, keeping your menu free of photos might be the right decision.

When your menu features unpleasant photos of your food, you lower your customers’ expectations. Offering a menu with poor quality images is bad for business.

Customers often preview a menu online before heading to a restaurant. For a beautifully designed menu with great images, they will be eager to eat in your restaurant. However, if they see that the menu is poorly designed and has unappealing food photos, they may be put off.

You could sacrifice good design

Designing a menu with images presents more challenges than creating a menu that contains only text. With images, they need to be properly formatted and well integrated into the text to look consistent.

In the modern age, a poorly designed or formatted menu can and will entice someone to click outside of your website. When searching for a restaurant, little things like bad design or poor picture quality quickly turn people off. There are so many options out there, and why would they want to eat somewhere that doesn’t have a mouthwatering menu?

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