Useful Stuff

Mega Menus: Friend or Foe?

Mega menus seem to be everywhere. The objective? To get users to the information they seek faster, and with fewer clicks. This has got to be a good thing, right?

Well yes it is, but opening up a whole world of possibilities to your user can overwhelm them, and, if you’re not careful result in a less productive outcome (namely fewer conversions or site abandonment. Not good).

So let’s take a look at the good, the bad and the ugly of Mega Menus and then you can decide for yourself if it’s what your website really needs:

Everything is visible. Fundamentally the core advantage. Dropdown menus tend to obscure a whole bunch of your options (this can seriously annoy your user). If the dropdown options keep vanishing it will inevitably cause frustration. Replace with a mega menu and hey presto - problem solved.
 
Categorisation. Many users like to see all of their options organised into nice little sub categories to make it as simple (and scannable) as possible. Boom – Mega Menus allow you to do this and arrange your options into logical and aesthetically pleasing sub sections. Another UX tick.   (And great for ecommerce sites)
 
Icons. Mega Menus can be designed so that they include icons. People respond favourably to visual stimulation. This can provide you with a quick and spatially efficient way to summarise the content.
 
Inject some personality. Mega Menus can help to promote your brand personality. They provide you with a variety of ways to personalise your Mega Menu (colour, fonts, images) so you can really make sure your meu shout, and effectively distinguish categories and subsections.
 
So it all sounds great right? And if structured correctly Mega Menus can not only help to clear up a cluttered layout but also become a great navigation tool and an aid to conversion.
But some experts suggest that they can be bad UX practice – dysfunctional even. So it’s important for us to explore this viewpoint. And of course remember that there are some really important things to consider if you do opt for this approach. (And if you do, we think you can produce an awesome Mega Menu).

Don’t overwhelm users. This is uber important.  Don’t throw every single sub category possible into your mega menu. Be strategic. Look at your analytics and make an informed decision about what should be there. What do users really want to see? The point is to help them get where they want to be quicker – not throw a million and one options at them causing them to scroll further than the standard drop down.

Keep it smooth…
Drop down menus should appear on your site in a seamless manner and without a delay. Make it load instantly. If you throw a crazy amount of content at your menu it’s going to inevitably take a long time to load. Users are not patient. They will lose interest (very quickly) and move on. (To your competitors)

Test, test, test. Users will abandon your Mega Menu if it’s virtually impossible to keep the cascading menu open long enough to actually be able to click on the option they want! Ensure that you’ve thoroughly tested this. On different browsers. And with different users. This is especially important for mobiles.

Link issues. Mega menus can be a nightmare for your internal link structures. The main way around this is to only show contextually relevant links.
 
We think Mega Menus are great in that they allow you to logically organise content into small uncluttered elements. They successfully provide you with an effective compromise between simple drop downs and expanding menus. Just be careful about the content you select. Take our tips on board. They’ll help you to ensure that your outcome is not a horribly implemented, non-accessible Mega Menu.
 
Be logical. Good times. 
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