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How to Create a Digital Menu Board (And What You Need to Tell Your Customers)

Restaurant menus have looked pretty similar for a long time – there’s only so much you can do with a paper menu!

As technology continues to push everything forward, many businesses are sensing the value of investing in digital menu boards to stand out from the competition and improve customer experience. 

If you’d like to do the same, you’re in the right place. Keep reading to find step-by-step instructions for setting up a digital menu board in your restaurant.

Creating a digital menu board: An overview

We’ll give you detailed instructions below. But for now, here’s a quick overview of what the digital menu board creation process looks like:

  1. Pick a premade digital menu board template or create your design from scratch
  2. Add your restaurant’s dishes to the template
  3. Bring the menu board to life with high-resolution images
  4. Incorporate animations, targeted ads and other value-adding features
  5. Put it all together and track your results

Here’s what you’ll need to get started

Setting up a digital menu board won’t require as many items as you might expect. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Digital signage software
  • Screens (televisions, tablets or monitors based on your goals)
  • Digital signage media players (only necessary if your screens don’t have built-in internet connectivity)

Your digital signage software is what will power your menu board. With this in mind, you’ll want to pick a provider that offers all of the design, sharing and analytical capabilities you need to get as much out of your digital menu solution as possible.

Step 1: Find a template that you like – or create one yourself

The first step is deciding what your digital menu board will look like. It’s essential to put some thought into this, as it can significantly affect customer experience. 

Your menu is a direct expression of what your restaurant stands for. It’s a crucial marketing opportunity to highlight:

  • The vibe in your restaurant
  • What you stand for as a company
  • What your guests should expect from the dishes that you serve

Keep in mind that 31% of restaurateurs update their menu monthly. So when you’re picking a design, you’ll want to give yourself the ability to make changes as needed without completely remaking the design.

Creating your own template vs. Using a pre-made one

There are pros and cons to each strategy, so it’s a matter of deciding what is best for your restaurant.

Using a pre-made template is often easier and will let you get your menu board up and running faster. However, these may also limit your ability to customize your menu board, making it feel a bit generic.

Creating your design from scratch gives you total design control,  but it will also take more time and investment.

Freelance graphic designers cost an average of $25/hr, and your menu board may require several hours of work. It’s up to you to decide whether that cost is worth paying.

Step 2: Add your dishes to the template with digital signage software

Once your menu design is ready, you can start adding dishes to it – but not ad hoc! Plan out your menu sections before you get started, and follow best practices for menu design to ensure your customers can clearly see and compare your offerings before they order.

With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to organize your menu:

  • Use the most prominent text size possible to make it easy for your guests to see every item
  • Keep your fonts simple
  • Use a color scheme that reflects your branding
  • Try to place dishes with the highest profit margins in the sections of your menu that customers naturally look at first (such as the middle and top right)

Step 3: Bring your digital menu board to life with high-resolution images

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which holds true for restaurant menus. When people can see how tasty a dish looks, they’re much likelier to order it.

That’s why it’s super important to make sure that you place images of some of your most popular (or profitable) dishes on your digital menu board.

But you should be strategic about doing this, as placing too many pictures on your menu could overwhelm your guests and increase their decision-making time.

Step 4: Kick things up a notch with animations, targeted ads, and more

You’ve chosen your menu design, added your dishes, and livened it up with some well-placed images. Now it’s time to take advantage of the unique capabilities of digital menu boards.

With digital signage software from UPshow, you can take your digital menu to the next level. Some features include:

  • Animations
  • Rotating display screens
  • QR codes

You can even display targeted ads for specific dishes on your digital menu board.

For example, let’s say you serve chicken wings, and you’ve got more in stock than you’d like. You could run a flash sale to help clear out the inventory and advertise it on your menu.

With features like this, you can get creative about how you market your specials. And since your menu board is fully digital, it’s easy to change the ads, animations, and screens you show daily.

Step 5: Put it all together and track your results

That’s it! You’ve put together your digital menu board, and it’s ready to be shared with customers.

But don’t just assume that you’ve got it all right, and you can ignore your digital menu board moving forward. Instead, you’ll want to keep tabs on whether or not your menu board is helping you make progress towards your goals over time.

You can use UPshow to track the analytical information that you get from your menu. That way, you can quickly see how well your ads are performing, what dishes people are ordering the most and other valuable information that you can use to refine your menu board over time.

Don’t let these potential issues derail your progress

Digital menu boards are an excellent way to give your customers a more enjoyable ordering experience while supporting your business goals.

But some problems can arise while you make this transition if you’re not careful. Here are three to keep an eye on as you get started:

Incorrect screen sizes and placements

If you want to get as much out of your digital menu board as possible, you need to make sure that all of your guests can see it clearly.

That means investing in large enough screens to display your full menu at a high resolution.

Additionally, you want to make sure that you hang your digital menu board at an angle that’s easy for your guests to look at. They shouldn’t have to crane their necks to figure out what they’re going to order.

Using too much detail

Adding details to your digital menus – such as photos and animations – can bring them to life and engage your customers. But if you add too many details, your menu board could quickly become overwhelming.

You can use the built-in analytics features of UPshow to make sure that you’ve got this balance right.

Not taking full advantage of the marketing capabilities of your digital menu board

Some restaurants make the upgrade to a digital menu board and then treat it as though it were a regular menu. But if you’re going to invest in this technology, you want to make sure that you’re getting as much out of it as possible.

That’s why it’s a good idea to design a high-level marketing plan for your digital menu board. Set some goals for it and develop the strategies that you’re going to use to reach them.

For example, you might have a goal of selling more of your lunch specials, or you could focus on decreasing your ordering time to move customers through your restaurant more efficiently.

Whatever your goals are, don’t let them fall by the wayside as you get used to having a digital menu board. That way, you can make sure that you’re using the technology to its full potential.

UPshow will help your restaurant achieve its digital menu goals

The key to nailing your switch to a digital menu is choosing the right digital signage software. That’s why you should check out UPshow.

Our digital signage software has everything you need to create your ideal digital menu board. With pre-made and customized design options, it’s easy to use UPshow to create displays that bring your imagination to life.

Plus, our software comes with loads of built-in analytics features. These will enable you to track your digital menu progress and adjust over time.