Mega Menu UX

The Truth about Mega Menus

Mega Menus are large dropdown menus that give users a lot of choices when surfing your website. Colombia (http://www.columbia.com/) has an excellent mega menu:

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These are large, dropdown menus with many layers of navigation. If you’re looking for a specific style of shirt, you could get there really easily.

Navigation is an extremely important aspect of web design because it serves to aid the user in finding exactly what they’re looking for. Effectively designed navigation tools play a huge role in user experience, and in creating a good website experience.

Pros of Mega Menus

When opting to use a mega menu, virtually all of your site options are visible, structured, and easily viewable at a glance. For someone committed to finding something on your website, it really doesn’t get much easier than this (as long as the structure and site map of your website is up to par). These menus are good for sites with a lot of content and/or products, like eCommerce websites or large retail websites.

Cons of Mega Menus

A confused mind always says no, and displaying dozens and even hundreds of options to your user is generally a big user experience no-no. Ideally – backed with several studies like the Cambridge Jam study – you want to only present the user with 4 – 6 options at a time.

Next, unless you have a lot of content or offerings, a Mega Menu is overkill. Most small and medium sized businesses (especially service-based businesses) don’t have as many solutions and services as required for a Mega Menu. So to compensate, they attempt to rename and overthink of every little situation. For example, instead of just having one category called SEO, they’d break it down to Local SEO, On-Site SEO, Link Earning, and so on and so forth. For someone who has a weak or fundamental understanding of SEO (most of my clients, otherwise they probably wouldn’t need to hire me) this could be confusing.

So… Are Mega Menus Bad for My Business?

As with most things, it depends. Generally, I find that Mega Menus are overkill for most small and medium sized clients of mine unless they have a large eCommerce shop or have a lot of different offerings or target markets.

Mega Menus generally excite marketing teams and business owners, as they remove pesky navigation from the home page and seem like an awesome way to go, “BOOM! There’s all of our stuff.”

However, some eCommerce clients of mine saw between a 15% and 20% drop in revenue almost instantly when deploying this strategy. This is for a variety of reasons, but the overall consensus was that the menu made navigating the site more difficult.

No matter what structure you use, it’s critically important to test the navigational usability of your menus on a variety of devices, and with your users, to determine what issues they may be having. Blindly picking a structure and running with it is bound to cause issues.