by anthony on 07/04/12 at 11:30 am
Websites with multiple dropdown menus are known for causing user problems. But how would a unified dropdown menu that displays all of a website’s links in one menu fare? It’s not common to find a unified dropdown menu on websites today. But this innovative navigation technique could prove useful in some cases.
hovering over the navigation bar drops down a single all-inclusive menu
See All Content Links in a Single Glance
The biggest benefit to a unified dropdown menu is that users can see all the available content links in a single glance. Traditional dropdown menus only allow users to see one content section of links at a time. Users have to go through the trouble of opening each content section to see the links. This makes finding and exploring website content slow and hard.
A unified dropdown menu allows users to explore website content in a faster and easier way. All they have to do is hover their mouse over the top navigation bar and a unified dropdown menu will display all the content links for every website section at once. The user has all of a website’s content links at their disposal, and can choose the content they want without having to open another menu.
No Accidental Menu Triggers
Unified dropdown menus also allow users to see everything a website offers without experiencing accidental menu triggers. In traditional dropdown menus, it’s common for users to accidentally hover over the wrong section and open a menu they never meant to open. These accidental errors slow users down and keep them from completing their task. Users also won’t experience any accidental menu triggers when they move from section to section in a unified dropdown menu. The user’s mouse can move freely without error because each content section combines into one large menu with a lot of space.
The Spacing Challenges
A unified dropdown menu is not suitable for every website. There are a lot of spacing challenges to executing it. Websites that have large lists of links for each content section will have trouble pulling it off due to limited width space. But if you only have a handful of links for each section, a unified dropdown menu could work for you. It’s important that the width of each link is as short as possible. Long link labels can easily throw the spacing between each section off-balance. You should have enough space between each section so that the links under it will have enough width space to not crowd or run into the links in a neighboring section.
ample spacing between each section is important to avoid link crowding
Easier to Use Than Traditional Menus
Not every website can use a unified dropdown menu. But those that do will make their navigation a lot easier for users to use. To see all the content links for a website in a single glance is powerful. And being able to move your mouse across the navigation area without any accidental menu triggers gives users a more seamless experience. The unified dropdown menu is not a widely used interface technique today. However, with its advantages compared to traditional dropdown menus, there’s no reason designers shouldn’t consider using it. It does have its spacing challenges, but in the end, its elegance and ease of use for the user pays off.