1 December 2010
Mega Menus, also known as Mega Drop-Down Menus, are a type of menu that has recently become popular and is a hybrid of two previously common menus:
Navigating via the website map: a method that displays all website pages; becomes more complex as pages are added to the website.
Navigating via a regular menu: a method in which few pages are displayed on each level; however, since it features more navigating levels, elaboration might tire the users in their search for information.
The Mega Menu an integration of these two solutions. It displays few main subjects (on its first level) and each subject serves as a title for a secondary subject organized according to a clear logic (such as alphabetical order) or by category.
While all web pages are displayed (as are its services and applications), this navigation method does not include many depth-levels.
Furthermore, the menu is located at the top of the page and allows access to anywhere in the website. In short, a simple and useful navigation method.
Properties of a Mega Menu:
Fix: Located at the top of the screen and allows access to any part of the website
Dynamic: when "standing" on a main subject, a wide panel is opened- a frame that delimits the subject and its subsidiary subjects (no need to click on the subject)
Category based: Allows sorting the subsidiary subjects into categories, which enables displaying many subjects without generating a sense of overload
Visual: Allows use of icons and/or pictures to present a subject selected from the list, which manifests both design and functionality
The Mega Menu's advantages can easily become disadvantages.
The following tips can be useful for maximal utilization of its potential:
Use categories or sub-headings and avoid from displaying a large number of subsidiary subjects in one long list under a central theme.
Display the list of subsidiary subjects from bottom to top, since that's how our eyes tend to scan a list. A list displayed horizontally (even if organized according to a clear logic) might confuse and tire the user.
Use pictures and graphics that add value, animate/enhance a subsidiary subject and simplifies navigation throughout the list.
In conclusion, a good menu is a useful menu. It is therefore important to set it up intelligently, taking the user into the consideration.
Mega-Menus Gone Wrong, Jakob Nielsen; November 2010
The Mega Menu, THAT Agency; April 2009