Restaurant Graphical Displays: What They Are, Why You Need Them
Imagine a kitchen on a busy weekend evening in a crowded restaurant. How do you picture the chef and cook staff receiving their orders? In the past, you probably would have seen a row of handwritten paper tickets, notes for the back-of-house to process, hung in the order they were received. While that’s still the case in some kitchens, many operations rely on restaurant graphical display systems. These digital screens can provide staff with information from the order ready times to the urgency of the order. Restaurant graphical displays should communicate information quickly, efficiently, and to some extent, across language barriers through color-coding or timestamp features.
The Psychology of Interfaces
You likely encounter graphical interfaces everywhere from the screen of your smartphone to pop culture. For example, you’ve probably seen gestural interfaces in movies where characters motion with their hands to operate the device. Those look neat in the theater, but they require more effort than they’re worth. Modern restaurant graphical displays are simple to use by design, requiring only a glance to follow. The information is updated in real-time through kitchen display systems (KDS) and bump bar technology, so that restaurant staff can quickly filter through their immediate priorities.
From a psychological perspective, these display systems are intentionally direct, to simplify the meaning into quick, digestible bites. In contrast, imagine your smartphone screen, which likely has a variety of apps on the home screen. While those devices are easy to navigate, they were developed with leisure in mind; users have the time to peruse their app layouts as they see fit. Restaurant kitchens are often hectic environments, and display screens present a contrast to that back-of-house environment, by delivering only pertinent information.
What is a Restaurant Graphical Display?
The psychology of a restaurant graphical display explains why you might use one, so let’s take a moment to examine the details. There are several examples of graphical displays in your restaurant. From your point of sale (POS) to your KDS, and even your restaurant management platform, graphical displays are everywhere, serving the back and front-of-house and everything in between. These are digital screens that provide information to your staff and, with order ready screens or drive-thru displays, your guests.
Kitchen Display System
In simple terms, a kitchen display system shows orders on a screen. Some systems go beyond this basic functionality, with technology that assists your kitchen staff. A robust KDS might include a few features like:
- Order throttling – ensures that each item in an order is fresh and finishes cooking at the same time.
- Routing – sends orders to the appropriate prep station in the kitchen.
- Bin management – a customizable feature that alerts your staff to prepare specific ingredients; this ensures that you have fresh products during rush times.
In general, a KDS will code items based on color to indicate where the order is concerning prep time and in providing accurate order ready times. Many systems are customizable and will allow you to change the look (font, etc.) of your information, and to brand your screens.
Guest Management System
You’ll find a guest management system in the front-of-house, typically at the host stand. For this restaurant graphical display, you can see where your guests are in their diner’s journey, both literally and figuratively. Some platforms utilize graphics that show you which tables are occupied and provide information on where they are in their meal, from “menu open” to “awaiting the check.”
Order Ready Screen
A guest-facing restaurant graphical display, an order ready screen alerts diners to when their meal is prepared. Your guests want shorter wait times, and while that may present a challenge –you can only prepare food so quickly– providing an estimated ready time goes a long way to mitigating customer anxiety. These screens are typically bare-bones, focusing on text with a clock to show when an order is ready to eat.
When you think of color-coding, you might think of something like a stoplight. Traditionally, green represents a positive, while a red represents a negative; in the case of traffic lights, it’s literally “go” and “stop.” Restaurant graphical displays are configurable by color code to match your needs. You might think that anything that is “late” should be in red to indicate that it’s overdue, which makes sense, given the volatile emotions associated with the color. The tricky part is in defining the appropriate length of time for lateness, which can fluctuate wildly depending on the order and the time of day. Fortunately, tools like data analytics can help provide you with insights into your typical order times, which will inform your decision as to how to code items.
Outside of a drive-thru sign, your restaurant graphical displays need to provide easy and functional information promptly. To that end, the fonts are best when clear and concise. Not all fonts are created equally, although many fonts have developed long term associations with different products or services. Ultimately, keeping your fonts clean and simple is ideal.
Another vital element to look for is how your choice of font animates the scan lines. A scan line is how your eyes move from word to word, often skimming and removing information. Since this is how human brains are wired, it’s best to keep it simple, both the actual font and the wording, to allow your staff to focus on the task at hand.
There is no greater social distancing tool than being able to read a screen separate from any specific handoffs. Restaurant graphical displays communicate information to your staff without having to hand anything off, eliminating waste and potential errors. With order ready screens, guests can sit, stand, or travel until they need to pick up an order. Guest management systems are effective at managing your internal traffic while maintaining a safe and healthy capacity under our new normal.
How do you use restaurant graphical displays? Sound off in the comments section, and let us know.
How has the pandemic altered your course? Click the link below for our page containing helpful restaurant resources for the COVID-19 outbreak.
About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot. At home, like the rest of the world right now, he’s finding time to play with the kids and create art.