When people are out and about, whether locally or out of town, and they become hungry, they reach for their phones. The convenience of smartphones and other mobile devices makes it easy for people to search for restaurants on a whim. Many people choose based on reviews, but just as many choose based on reading through posted online menus. After all, many people have a craving that they are looking to satisfy. They may be looking for a particular dish or cuisine.
Why format is important
Many restaurants will take the easy way out and post a picture file (jpg, gif) or scan and post a pdf of the menu. This can be convenient if you are in the habit of posting a menu that changes daily. Unfortunately, that routine gets old quick and soon people are seeing a menu from last summer when it's now winter.
Typing menu items onto a web page is more beneficial due to search engine optimization (SEO). The better your SEO, the higher up in search engine results your restaurant will appear. By typing in your menu items, they become searchable. Burgers, pasta, seafood, pizza will all be key search words that get picked up by Google, etc.
Finally, the menu needs to be optimized for mobile devices so that they are easy to view. Not all programs or programmers code properly for this and so it is important that you preview your menus on a mobile device before go-live.
Menus change on a regular basis. It would be an inconvenience to have to constantly change it online. There's also the liability of having people hold you to the fire when they demand an item or price that they saw online for something that is no longer valid.
The best way to handle this is to put in the line: Sample menu only - subject to change without notice. This way you can change your menu on a scheduled basis, such as seasonally or monthly, without getting into run-ins with customers.
In this information age, online menus are an important marketing tool. Don't ignore the opportunity of luring in customers with an easy-to-read, enticing menu.