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How To Choose A Menu System

If you are looking to buy a menu system for your place of business, some of the options and terminology might get a bit confusing. What, for example, is a magnetic trackless menu system? Or a backlit static cling menu system? The purpose of this article is to outline the basic things you'll need to consider when buying a menu system, and to point out the relative advantages and disadvantages of each.

Lighting (Front Lit • Back Lit • Non-illuminated)
Front Lit, Our Specialty! - Front lit menu boards make use of external light fixtures that are normally attached to the frame of the menu board. Our light fixtures are non-glare spotlights. Front lit menu boards tend to be easier to access and update than back lit menus, and they are usually optional, you can choose non-illuminated if the area is lit by other sources. In addition, lights can be added or subtracted at a later date if lighting requirements change.

Back lit - Back lit menu boards contain internal light fixtures and translucent (see-through) graphics. Back lit boards tend to be more expensive, less flexible in terms of design and layout, and prone to light leakage. Although the look is often dramatic and eye-catching, they are also more costly to maintain and front lit menu boards can look equally appealing.

Non-illuminated - Non-illuminated menu boards do not require illumination. In well-lit environments, lighting may not be a necessary component of your menu system.

Menu Updating Technology (Magnetics • Track Systems • Static Cling • Full Graphics)
Magnetic - Magnetic menu boards consist of magnetic graphics and menu strips that adhere to metal boards or boards with metal properties. Magnetic menu boards are easy to update and highly flexible in terms of design and layout. They are also easy and inexpensive to maintain. Though easy to maintain, menu strips and price digits can look sloppy if applied in a careless manner.

Track systems - Track systems are common in backlit menu boards. In a track system, graphics and menu strips slide into "tracks" that are built into the menu face. The main advantage of track systems is that they are conducive to internal illumination. On the negative side, they offer limited design flexibility, they can be costly to maintain and they often produce light leakage.

Static Cling - Static Cling systems contain non-permanent elements that "cling" to menu board graphics. Normally, the static cling option is only used for price digits, since it would be unwieldy and difficult to work with static-cling menu strips. They offer a good solution for price updates on backlit menu boards, but their usefulness tends to end there. They can look sloppy if not handled with extreme care.

Full Graphics - Full graphics are useful when menu and price changes can be kept to a minimum. With a full-graphic system, all images, menu items and prices are part of a single printed graphic. This option provides for a great degree of design flexibility, but a new graphic will need to be ordered each time there is a menu change (unless static cling prices are being used). Full Graphics are a popular option among chains and franchises that have uniform pricing across multiple locations.

Materials (Stainless Steel • Wood • Plastics)
There are hundreds of materials that can be used to make menu boards. Our focus is on three of the most popular:
Stainless Steel - Stainless steel is the primary menu board material used by IDS Menus. It is highly-durable, rust-resistant, and stylish. It has become our material of choice due to its attractive appearance and high customer-approval ratings. It offers a contemporary look, which may not appeal to those seeking a more rustic-looking menu system. However, when coupled with wood trim, its design possibilities increase significantly.

Wood - Wood menu boards offer a variety of color options and design possibilities. However, as a primary construction material, wood can be subject to warping and chipping.

Plastics are a very common primary material in both indoor menu systems and drive-thrus. They can be cost-effective (though not necessarily), especially when ordering in high quantities. On the downside, plastic menu boards and especially drive-thrus tend to look rundown after a few years.

Viewing Angle
Cantilevered - Cantilevered boards are angled to provide optimum visibility. IDS menu boards are cantilevered at a 15 degree angle unless we are otherwise instructed. Most menu board companies do not offer a cantilevered option.

Hanging Options
Wall-mounted - Wall-mounted menu boards are mounted to walls using brackets and/or hanging hardware.

Ceiling-hung - Ceiling-hung menu boards are suspended from ceilings using chains or wire. IDS menu boards can be ceiling hung while maintaining a 15 cantilevered angle

Menu Systems vs. Individual Boards
Menu boards can be connected to form a finished system, or they can stand alone. The IDS glide-rail system connects boards to create a finished look while allowing for changes to board size and total number of boards. In addition, the IDS glide-rail system can be equipped with spacers, end units and corner units to create a complete, eye-catching centerpiece for your place of business.

–To learn more about Choosing a Menu System, call IDS today: 1-800-542-9779.



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