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In March 2009, Jakob Nielsen came out with this article saying “mega menus work well” [useit.com...]
I am wondering if tedster or anyone else has noticed any change in the climate with regard to the search engines since mid-2008 with Nielsen’s article on mega menus and an increase with these type of menus in general.
I notice recently while looking online to make a purchase for a new office chair that both Office Max and Office Depot are using mega menus. Also, Microsoft has a site in the UK [microsoft.com...] with one I like.
I am in the process of redesigning my main website and adding about 20X more content. This has always been the plan but time forced me to just put up the first part about 3 years ago. Navigation is the biggest flaw in my current design so presenting the content in a mega menu has an appeal for me.
For those of you that are using the mega menus of late, what are you finding?
[edited by: tedster at 4:49 pm (utc) on Jan. 1, 2010]
[edit reason] fixed a broken link [/edit]
Jakob Nielsen came out with this article saying “mega menus work well”
A couple comments about that article. First, Nielsen's focus is on usability, not on Google indexing. And second, he is using the term "mega menu" for a specific type of dropdown interface which the article details rather completely. In summary, the hover action reveals a wide multi-column submenu.
Apparently Nielsen's testing shows that thi kind of menu is not a problem for end users in some cases. He still advises testing before you go with it. and he still advises not overloading the submenu with too many choices. And it's the "too many choices" angle that I focused on when I coined the term - not the visual size on screen.
I have noticed some of this trend - some of them quite elegant. But as an end user, I still highly prefer a well thought out information architecture. That's the usability angle. For SEO, I still see that having too many links right in the template of every page still creates ranking troubles and semantic chaos.
The core issue is still wanting to make a website function like an application - and an application is something a user gets to know well through regular use. Only a few, rare websites will have that luxury - and, like Microsoft, they will probably have enough backlink strength not to worry about getting well indexed.
When carefully planned out, they can be two cats that live quite well together.
To me, it is all about making sure that you allocate the correct 'real estate' on your homepage, inner pages and categories, to reflect the topics that are associated most with the topic at hand, and then curtailing the need to place links that are not related.
The bigger the website gets, the larger and prominent the issue becomes when it is not properly addressed as the categories become more generalized at the first level, and more diverse and expansive as they trickle down.