Zachary J Baehr

Adding the daily menu as a ‘job to be done’

On the list of jobs a school can help a parent complete is staying on top of the daily menu. A jobs-to-be-done approach can help you streamline a home page or specific section of your website with the information that completes a task parents (and perhaps students and staff, as well) want help with on a regular basis.

Using your website to finish a job

On the idea of website usefulness, we should revisit the idea of only posting menus online. First, yes, post the month’s menu online, likely a PDF so it can be printed easily. But second, post the individual daily menu in a way that can be quickly found on a day-by-day basis. I consider this a key point of user-experience (UX), especially in a mobile-first or mobile-friendly world. Links that lead to a PDF are not friendly on a daily basis. Scrolling to that day’s menu in text format on the school’s home page is friendly, and it is helpful to families with one of their ‘jobs to be done.’ 

The tech of this job to be done

Hopefully your digital menu solution, if you use one, offers this as an option via RSS or a short code of some variety. (In my case, we don’t use such a solution, so we post each day’s menu as a separate item in the database, and ‘call’ for that to appear in different places throughout the website (home page, student page, parent page, etc. Every day at 1 p.m. (after that day’s meals are over), the daily menu updates to the next day’s meal. UPDATE: Google Calendars is a dream. Mass import your menu into a calendar just for menus, then use the right Google calendar plugin to get that data into your website, and modify the look-and-feel how you wish. I high recommend this approach!

Foodie pics of school menu items

I have dreamed of include a photograph of the main entrees for each day. However, food photography is not easy. It takes lighting, a background space, and perhaps some ‘fakery’ that you would see a big-brand fast food restaurant use in their visual content. So be careful with photographing your school’s menu items. That said, it’s easier to photograph cookies or healthy snacks and fruit, and working those into your website could add a small visual cue.

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