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Bacon on plateWhen you head out for breakfast this weekend, think about what you choose to order. Why did you go for the tall stack instead of the short stack of pancakes? Did you really want that side of bacon? And why is your bill so much higher than it was the last time you came by for breakfast?

If your meal comes from IHOP, the answers to these questions all might be based in the choices made by the “expert in menu creative development” whom the chain hired to revamp and update its menus. Whereas the old menu seemed cluttered, making it difficult for diners to navigate through its various pages, the new version uses color coding at the top of each page. Thus customers can more easily flip to different pages but still come back to find an option they had been considering.

In addition, IHOP agreed to trim 40 items from its menus, bringing the total options available down to 140. This reduction freed up some more space, which the redesign devotes to more pictures, as well as more white space. The previous version had too much text, leaving insufficient space for “glamour shots” of appetizing food. The text that remains makes greater use of color, and some of it appears in modern-looking chat bubbles, which evoke a digital image. Necessary safety disclaimers and mandated information moved to the very bottom of the page, reducing the visual disruption that they previously have caused.

As a result of these changes and shifts, same-store sales have increased by 3.6 percent compared with last year. Not only did diners trade up to more expensive or larger menu items, but they also added on more side dishes to their orders. In particular, IHOP credits the “Add a Side” boxes that appear in the margins of each menu page, encouraging consumers to include a little something extra with their meal.

Furthermore, the menus are specifically designed to appeal to two of the chain’s most targeted populations: Baby Boomers and families with children. For Baby Boomers, the menu now features a distinct “55+ specialty entrees” page with lower prices. For kids, the dedicated page is brightly colored, and the pictured menu item is a stack of pancakes, decorated with strawberry eyes, a banana slice mouth, and whipped cream hair.

Source: Venessa Wong, “How IHOP’s New Menu Design Gets Customers to Spend More,” Bloomberg BusinessWeek, January 10, 2014