Don’t hide the ingredients


I went to a nice cafeteria-style restaurant yesterday to get some lunch. I’ve been to this particular place before, but never ordered a sandwich there. That’s when I noticed something odd: The menu board only shows the names of their sandwiches, which aren’t very descriptive. Basically, there’s no way to figure out what’s in there without waiting in line to ask someone or finding a takeout menu.

Now, I’ve got nothing against a catchy, unique product name, whether it’s for a sandwich, a piece of software, or a coffeemaker. But if your business model requires customers to figure out what that name stands for in a crowded ordering area, you need to give them a few attributes they can understand. Otherwise, some portion of the people are going to get ticked off and head elsewhere.

In fact, I abandoned this very restaurant the week before and went someplace else down the block, precisely because I couldn’t figure out what I needed to order. It wasn’t until I found the secret decoder ring (in the form of their take out menu) that I could deciper the puzzle and choose the right sandwich.