My team and I are involved on a re-brand for a vegan restaurant. Most of the print collateral has sailed through the approvals process.
The trickiest item so far is the menu. We laid the type out in InDesign onto a standard 11" x 17" given the volume of information. However, we were told the menu needs to update daily, sometimes weekly, to address the many kinds of seasonal foods they adapt into their dishes. So, we were asked to set-it up in Microsoft Word. Okay, not too hard right? Something that is easier to update from a typical user's perspective inside a program that many people are comfortable with.
Our problem is anticipating the adding or subtracting of entire dishes. There just doesn't seem to be a way for them (or us) to predict how the menu will shift. And given the volume of information, the menu needs to have at least 2 columns as opposed to stacking lines of text in a linear fashion from the top to the bottom of the page. But, as you begin to arrange information into columns, what ends up happening is that the column on the left expands which pushes information in the right column down. This creates an uneven and unbalanced look. It also disrupts the flow of information making it difficult to read and pushes other things down too (including the section for 'sides', 'soups', and 'salads').
Not only should the menu look well designed with acceptable hierarchy and pre-defined character styles, but it needs to have enough space built in for the user to add or take away volumes of text without ruining it. As it stands, there is so much information that needs to be on the front, that we are concerned about reducing the size of the type to the point where it would simply be illegible in service to more page space.
I'm willing to accept that it might not always look perfect. Styles are easy to set-up in Word. Sure, there's less physical control over every last detail. We can roll with that.
The question is: Is there a better way of approaching this? Some way that helps to address the needs of the staff? We've gone as far as to remove all graphic embellishments except for a simple header (just the logo) and a simple footer rule for visual weight. But beyond this, are there ways of approaching this process to make it easier overall? Restricting styles in Word? Creating a smarter menu?
We have never really worked on a menu much less a tool that would be used and read so frequently. And we thought we'd ask for the community's advice. Maybe there's something we're missing or something we haven't given much thought to.