Engaging Your Audience – MEGA MENUS!

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How do you engage your audience to browse more than the average 2.7 pages per visit?

Navigation design and usability are always hot topics with web designers and business owners alike. Since the late 90’s we’ve gone from loving drop-down menus to hating them and back to loving them again now in 2011. The latest idea in navigation design is the ‘mega menu’ – the mother of all drop-down menus.

You’ll find mega menus on a lot of large sites and online stores nowadays – Target, Brisbane 18 Footers Sailing Club, REI.  Not only do they have a cool name, mega menus are a great way to more fully explain your content at a secondary navigational level, with icons, larger headings and explanatory text and engaging images and even widgets like search fields and maps.

Here are a few screenshots to demonstrate (click on the images to go to the websites):

The recently reworked ANZ website:

The news.com.au in its latest incarnation (main image above shows previous design):

We predict an explosion of this type of menu, at least until it’s overused and abused and we all grow to hate it like the fly-out menus of last week.

Some things to remember…

  • Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!
  • Even though you have more room, keep your wording and link titles succinct and relevant.
  • Use appropriate ICONs and images to suit your navigation structure.
  • Don’t over-crowd the space.

Some practical examples where the Mega-menu could work for you:

  • Large websites (50-100+ pages)
  • Category or catalogue lists
  • Multi-market service offering
  • Search options (embed the form in the drop-down)

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