You've Never Seen A McDonald’s Menu Look This Good

Say what you will about fast food; this graphic design from McDonald’s is surprisingly gorgeous, and just as helpful.

Color. Clarity. White space. Typography. It’s the visual balance driving any good art exhibition or magazine. But we’re not talking about either today. We’re talking about the McDonald’s Full Menu Explorer. It’s the complete McDonald’s menu, laid out entirely on a single page of their website.

Everything from the ubiquitous Big Mac to the news-to-us Bacon Buffalo Ranch McChicken is here, appearing as a photo of similar size and weight amongst its peers. To see every item you can possibly eat or drink at McDonald’s is borderline fun and as you scroll, the food's color naturally demarcates the menu. The beige-colored buns of the many burgers segue to the white wraps that then leads to a breakfast menu that injects a healthy dose of yellow in the form of eggs. Eventually you reach the lime green salads, and then, to top it all off, a rainbow of dessert items (though variations of the color pink, brown, and orange dominate here since the Shamrock Shake is not in season).

We could digress about how hilarious it is to see the McRib's bloody haunch of pork on a bun imposing itself into the delicate wraps section. But the visuals are only part of the menu’s appeal. The magic happens when you mouse over any menu item and its nutrition facts appear. Comparing a Double Cheeseburger to a McDouble takes a microsecond, and should you choose to click in to any item, you can explore its nutrition facts further, and even add it to a “meal builder.”

In other words, McDonald’s has presented their menu with a borderline beautiful informational clarity. But a skeptic might analyze their choices differently, of course. There are no combos presented on this menu for those who simply order and consume a whole Value Meal, meaning a customer might underestimate their total intake by looking at each distinct item. Additionally, both sugar and saturated fats are left off that super convenient mouse-over of nutrition facts. Of course designers had to draw the line somewhere, lest they overwhelm their audience with information overload. But these sugars and saturated fats are arguably the biggest reasons that our favorite McDonald’s foods aren’t generally considered healthy.

That said, the menu is a very nice piece of work. And you only need go so far as Burger King’s menu--which includes combo meals, BTW-- to see how decisions like a quieter background, putting a full menu on a single page, or quick-draw nutrition facts can make all the difference to user experience.

Try it here.

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24 Comments

  • miguelpeixe

    This is definitely not my definition of gorgeous design. I really enjoy FastCo Design, but this whole article is just wrong.

  • Ignacio Giri

    I always wondered why if you go to a very expensive restaurant you don't see the photos of the food in their menu.

  • Marc Posch

    Because this is the realm of low-price restaurants. They sell a food product, a commodity. Expensive restaurants sell an experience.

  • Paul Treanor

    Selling an experience isn't the realm of only expensive restaurants. Saying a low-price restaurant or even fast-food can't sell an experience is false. Go ask a six-year old which provides a better experience - Ruth's Chris or McDonald's.

  • Marc Posch

    Paul. I agree. McDonalds and other low price restaurants did jump on the "experience train" a few years ago once they found out that it sells more products. The playground at McD is designed only to bring in kids with their parents (and their wallets). McD is pretty good at that.

  • Sem Scholte

    I think this is an old fashion state of mind. Selling an experience isn't using words to describe beautiful plate of delicious food.

    Tv-shows like Masterchef are an experience. Seeing the food, seeing the process of making it and the use of the fresh and beautiful products. (expensive) Restaurant could learn a lot from this.

  • Morgan Maiolie

    Not bad! By taking an extra step and adding food to the Meal Builder, it looks like a customer can see the overall nutritional consequences of a meal pretty easily - saturated fat and sugar included.

  • Henry Binklebauer

    Accusation without evidence ==> mindless shouting ==> possibly wrong ==> credibility suicide.

    Either way, there's no advantage to be gained by accusing the author of blogola... either s/he would deny it or it would be a false accusation. Only hard evidence would make this "a story," of which there is none except a bunch of empty Big Mac cartons.

  • Mark Wilson

    Wow Marc. Seriously--can you imagine how insulting it would be if I showed up to your place of work and said you copy and pasted someone else's product? If you think so lowly of writers like me, why read this site? Why click this story?

    I actually spotted this while researching another piece. None of us on staff had seen it before, and we were all taken by it for the reasons listed above. So we wrote about it.

    If you have an earnest criticism of our own criticism of the McD's menu, by all means, let loose.

    But if you just get off on bullying people by blindly insulting their integrity, what does that say about you?

    I know you're on the internet. But please, be a human.