Why I Hate Mega Menus

Your agency is big. You have a lot of content. How will people see all this content?

"I know," you exclaim. "Mega menus!"

Mega menus are big menus. Really big. Click on one item and you're presented with a plethora of options — so many it takes you 30-40 seconds to get through everything. Not there? Click on something else and spend another 30 seconds looking for the content you're interested in.


Where’s Waldo? More importantly, Where’s ZENworks Migration Assurance?

By now you can tell I'm not a big believer in mega menus. A few years ago, they were all the rage, with Amazon leading the way. Amazon sold EVERYTHING, and they needed a way to present EVERYTHING to the user. How?

Mega menus!

That's now a failed experiment. Amazon now leans heavily on its search engine for people to find things.

But why, you may ask. Why aren't mega menus a good idea? I'll give you 5 good reasons.

  1. Sometimes, search is better.
    I've already mentioned Amazon.com and their failed experiment. They still offer a smaller mega menu on the left-hand side of their page for those who want to browse, but search is the main vehicle for finding things on Amazon. It's a lot easier to find things on Amazon with a mobile device using search.
  2. Make the user do the work.
    The blog Blind Five Year Old called mega menus the "Whac-a-Mole of navigation" — where do you click next? Try one, then try the other. The blog also called them the "Where's Waldo" of navigation. Search and search for the right link, then go to the next main navigational item if you can't find what you're looking for. It has to be there somewhere! You're making the user do all of the work, and it's important to not make people scavenger hunt for what they're looking for.
  3. Paradox of choice.
    More is less. In my last blog post, I mentioned the famous "Jam Study" that showed that too many choices can frustrate users. Eliminating choices in the menu also reduces anxiety in the consumer. Why make them anxious?
  4. Load delays.
    More flyout menus and more links in those menus equal more code, which increases load times on your website.
  5. Accessibility issues.
    People who use keyboard navigation find mega menus extremely difficult to use because so many of the links become visible using the hover. As a result, many get lost wading through the endless choices.

Some of you have asked why we don't have mega menus on our platform. In addition to other reasons, these are the top reasons we stick with what we have. You have lots of tools at your disposal — card sorting, reverse card sorting, usability testing — to make sure your information architecture is sound, simple, and satisfying to customers. Make navigation easy to use — not a test for users.

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