Sunday, February 5, 2012

Post-Disaster Menu Forensics

Posted By on Sun, Feb 5, 2012 at 5:40 AM

chilis_express_lunch_1.JPG

Take a quick look at this menu and decide what you want for lunch. Not gonna happen fast, right?

Our table of five huddled for several minutes just to assimilate what was being offered, and how it should be ordered. Like cavemen discovering tools, we'd share when we figured out some portion of it. "Oh look, you get chips with that." And, "I think you can get soup with that, but you don't have to."

It starts well enough, with standard delicious photography at the top. Then below on the left, a diagram to "Build Your Own Combo." Then below that, "Start Here."

"Start here" implies a journey. We've already been to the art museum and the chart department; where else could be possibly need to go before ordering?

We're at soups and salads, and here's a big sign that says "Get a Drink." I was ready to order, but here's a whole new "Finish the job" column. Figuring out what's in there, and how it compares to lunchy selections already encountered requires reading back through the previous sections.

Finally, before the end of the order journey, there's a bright yellow bar at the bottom for "Bottomless Express Lunch." And then there are choices within that.

Menu disaster forensics: It's hard to know what happened here, but here's an imagined scenario.

Management says to the culinary team, "Create an express menu of a dozen items that can be on the table in five minutes."

Marketing says to culinary,"Let's make combinations so we can sell more food."

They both say to the art dept, "We have to list all the choices, and then add on other stuff. But make it easy. But definitely add on all the other stuff."

chilis_express_lunch_3.JPG
The result was more confusing than a standard menu, but suddenly the deadline was near, so they tweaked what they had and just went with it.

It's just a theory, of course, and if you have another, bring it on.

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