Designing Drop-Down Menus: Examples and Best Practices

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As a general rule, most Web developers, especially usability enthusiasts, say it is bad practice to use drop-down menus because they are confusing, annoying and oftentimes dysfunctional. From a design standpoint, however, drop-down menus are an excellent feature because they help clean up a busy layout. If structured correctly, drop-down menus can be a great navigation tool, while still being a usable and attractive design feature.

Yes, that’s right: drop-down navigation menus can be user-friendly. Just yesterday Jacob Nielsen the results of his recent drop-down menus study, in which he found out that big, two-dimensional drop-down panels that group navigation options help users to avoid scrolling and can precisely explain the user’s choices with effective use of typography, icons, and tooltips.

These panels appear temporarily and disappear on their own when users move the pointer to another top-level option or to a “regular” part of the screen. You can find more information about Nielsen’s study in his article Mega Drop-Down Navigation Menus Work Well.

Screenshot
Huge vertical drop-down panel from foodnetwork.com; notice a close button (the “x” in the upper right corner).

In this article we take a closer look at the nature of drop-down navigation menus, analyze situations in which they should or should not be used, discuss various implementations and finally showcase a couple of bad and good examples of such menus. The article also includes various tips and suggestions to help you work with your drop-down menus.

Where To Use Drop-Down Menus

You will often see many trends in which drop-down menus are used. Here are a few of the most common ones.

Organize Pages in a Section
Most commonly, drop-down menus are used to pull all of the pages in a certain category together in one organized element. This is essentially sub-navigation. Take a look at the design below. A drop-down element contains all of the different categories for a certain section of the website.

Screenshot

Organize Categories in a Blog
You will see many blogs use a drop-down menu to organize categories and tags. Why? Blogs are driven by a large amount of information, so the layout needs to be as clean as possible to hold that content. A drop-down menu ultimately helps pull together links, such as categories, out of layout elements, such as the sidebar.

Screenshot

Show Products on an eCommerce Website
You will see many e-commerce websites use drop-down menus to show products or categories of products. The drop-down menu is a friendly feature that all consumers can easily figure out, so it is a perfect way to organize products. The Best Buy website, shown below, does just this.

Screenshot

Display Modules
A drop-down can be an excellent way to tuck away an obstructive menu, which the user can click on to reveal. Take the example below, for instance. The sign-in element is part of the navigation, then appears in the form of a drop-down. This is a great way to take this large element out of the layout without negatively impacting usability.

Screenshot

Best Practices

Drop-down menus do in fact organize content into small, uncluttered elements, but if not done correctly, they can be just as bad as a messy layout. Here are some ways to make this controversial element more usable.

Avoid a Drop-Down with More than Two Levels
Overall, this is just about the worst mistake one could make with drop-down menus in terms of usability. If done with a hover menu structure, the user will lose focus of the menu whenever the mouse pointer moves away from it. If done with a clickable structure, it has too many buttons and doesn’t work nicely.

The website shown below makes this mistake. The menus are very difficult to use because if you even slightly lose focus of the menu with the mouse pointer, you have to start from the top. Notice the tooltip, which also gets in the way of the navigation.

Screenshot

Option 1: Hover Menu
Basically, there are two ways to approach the drop-down menu: with either a hover or a click to activate the menu. From a design and convenience standpoint, a hover menu is better.

Option 2: Clickable Menu
On the other hand, many will argue that a clickable menu is better because it is much more usable. Reason? Because of the way a hover menu is constructed, the user has to have the pointer over the menu at all times. If the user loses focus of the hover menu, it closes. Therefore, it is better to go with a drop-down menu that is activated by clicking a button, then deactivated by clicking the button once more.

CSS-Tricks has a tutorial showing how to create a layout similar to that of Digg. It is a perfect drop-down menu with a click-to-activate/deactivate feature, so it’s certainly something you should take a look at.

Screenshot

Also, Google features a usable drop-down menu using the click on/off trick.

Screenshot

Delay the Deactivation of a Hover
Avoiding a hover structure and many levels in a drop-down may be too much of a restriction for the navigation you are trying to create. There is a solution, though, that can improve the usability of a hover and multi-level menu. With most menus, the drop-down disappears immediately after the user moves the mouse pointer away from the menu. The solution is to delay its disappearance. Or, have a click function that requires users to click outside the menu area to close the drop-down, similar to how a Lightbox functions.

Take Dell, for example. It uses a multi-level drop-down menu, but it is still somewhat usable. This is the only exception to the use of multi-level drop-down menus.

Screenshot

Furthermore, the menu on the Porsche website has multiple levels. However, the menu has a very wide focus range. This means you have to move your pointer a certain distance away from the menu to close it.

Screenshot

Add a Hover Effect to Menu Options
The navigation itself actually affects the usability of the drop-down menu. One way to make the menu work better with the drop-down is to add a hover effect to the menu options. This shows exactly which button in the navigation the menu is extending from, which will certainly help users.

The example below, the MediaTemple home page, shows a strong hover effect on the navigation options, which helps to support the drop-down menu.

Screenshot

Seamless Transitions
When a drop-down menu appears, it should appear seamlessly and without interruption. The menu should load immediately. Many websites make the mistake of making the menu so “heavy” that it takes more than an instant to load upon the hover.

Transition effects are one more detail that can look really cool. Instead of the menu simply appearing, try throwing in a wipe down or fade in. Just be sure to make the transition quick and not disruptive.

You will notice that Microsoft doesn’t do a very good job of creating a seamless menu. Observe the image below closely. You will notice that outlines from adjacent menus are still visible when the main menu is loading. When you move from button to button in the navigation, the drop-down menus have a slight lag, which looks bad. Of course, this doesn’t occur in all browsers, but it shouldn’t occur in any.

Screenshot

Remove Tooltips
Of course, when designing drop-down menus, there are always little details that impact usability. One important practice you may overlook is the presence of tooltips, or the lack of tooltips. You should always remove tooltips from buttons with drop-down menus. Reason? Tooltips just get in the way and sometimes even block the first list item in the drop-down menu.

Yes, we will be picking on Microsoft once more. Microsoft makes this mistake on its corporate page. Notice how the tooltip blocks many of the list items, which makes navigation that much more difficult.

Screenshot

Styling Techniques

Content backgrounds can be somewhat of a challenge, too. The background has to be subtle, or it will ruin the content. Here are a few ways to liven up content backgrounds without going over the top.

Use a Clean List
Not only is the element styling important, but the content styling is important, too. Clean typography and a readable list are important. Use smart spacing between elements in the list, and add a border above and below list items.

The example below from Audi shows a very well-organized and readable list. The list items are separated, and there are even list item icons.

Screenshot

On the other hand, The Washington Post’s website has a very poor list in the drop-down menu. There is not enough spacing between list items, so the menu is very cluttered and difficult to use.

Screenshot

Hover Effects on List Items
All buttons need some sort of hover effect to be more usable. In drop-down menu lists, apply subtle hover effects, perhaps just a text color or background change. The White House website uses only a background change on list items, but it still helps the user.

Screenshot

Semi-Transparent Background
This won’t work for all designs, but you should consider a semi-transparent background for the menu. The website shown below has a transparency, so the user can still see through to the image background. The key to semi-transparent elements is to keep a strong and readable contrast.

Screenshot

Keep Styling Consistent with Menu
You will hear everywhere that consistency in styling is a must, and it certainly is. For navigation and a drop-down menu to work together as one unit, as they should, the styling needs to be similar. Use the same fonts and a similar background.

In the example below, the drop-down menu looks as it should.

Screenshot

Poorly Constructed Menus

Below are some examples of drop-down menus that fall short somewhere with styling and usability.

Navigant Consulting
This menu is poorly styled and dysfunctional.

Screenshot

Panasonic
Although this menu is well-styled, it is difficult to use because of a bad hover effect.

Screenshot

Toshiba
The Toshiba menu is too small and does not follow good styling practices.

Screenshot

LG
Like the Microsoft menu above, this one has a slight lag, which makes it hard to use.

Screenshot

Chrysler
The Chrysler page uses a drop-down menu with very small text, which makes it difficult to read.

Screenshot

Sun
These drop-down menus are rather fidgety and hard to use. The tooltip gets in the way, too, and directly above the main navigation is another drop-down menu. All of this makes it very difficult to navigate.

Screenshot

Creative Labs
The menu below is cluttered and does not have a delayed hiding or similar technique, so it is not very usable.

Screenshot

HP
Another hover menu that lacks usable features.

Screenshot

Alienware
The black menu on the black design makes this drop-down difficult to use.

Screenshot

Good Drop-Down Menus

Here are many drop-down menus that have good usability and styling features.

Sony
A well-constructed hover menu with a good list.

Screenshot

ActionEnvelope
A clean vertical drop-down panel with a lot of padding; notice, how the panel appear to be above other design elements. Simple and beautiful solution.

Screenshot.

Helmy Bern
A beautifully styled menu, with a fade transition.

Screenshot

RedBrick
This menu is cleanly styled and very readable.

Screenshot

REI
This drop-down is very wide, so it is easy to keep the mouse in focus.

Screenshot

Philips
Philips has a large and usable drop-down module.

Screenshot

Walmart
On the Walmart site, the user clicks on the area outside the menu to close it.

Screenshot

Samsung
The Samsung menu is usable because of its large size and styling.

Screenshot

Epson
Epson shows another usable drop-down menu.

Screenshot

Mini Cooper
This website uses a drop-down menu with delayed closing.

Screenshot

Gateway
Here is another usable drop-down element.

Screenshot

Asus Global
A well-styled menu that has delayed hiding.

Screenshot

Intel
A very clean drop-down menu.

Screenshot

Target
A well-organized menu that has delayed closing.

Screenshot

Garmin
This drop-down menu is simple yet functional.

Screenshot

Logitech
A drop-down with very nice styling that matches the menu.

Screenshot

Incase
This menu is very basic but serves its purpose.

Screenshot

evelMerch
A small yet functional drop-down, with a graphic to show users that the button opens a menu.

Screenshot

IBM
A multi-level drop-down is used here, but a slight delay makes this one easier to use.

Screenshot

EA
A very clean and well-organized drop-down element.

Screenshot

ACTIVISION
This menu is clean and has delayed hiding to improve usability and functionality.

Screenshot

Yahoo! Finance
The menu on Yahoo! Finance has large buttons and icons to show where menus can be opened.

Screenshot

Related posts

Please consider visiting the following related posts:

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Matt Cronin is an avid graphic designer, web designer/developer, Cocoa programmer, photographer, digital artist, and the like. He also enjoys writing, and does quite a bit of writing for Smashing Magazine. He is currently working on a startup called VAEOU, which will have new services coming soon.

  1. 1

    wow great post.. really informative ..

    0
  2. 2

    Nice stuff, but could we get a Smashing tut on how to get MS IE to get off its pasty ass and display those dropdown frakkers properly? Without javascript or flash? Y’know, like every other browser out there does?

    -1
  3. 3

    Tedwick, why don’t you get off your pasty ass and figure it out.

    3
  4. 4

    Thanks Matt for optimized showcase. If you would have included some tutorials for Multilevel Drop Down Navigation Menus than it’s handy with your collection for a complete post package lovers.

    I personally don’t use multi-level drop downs as they are HTML evil incarnate! If you find yourself in a situation where you have no choice, you took a wrong turn somewhere and need to go back and retrace your steps.

    Anyway.. Still, a nice round-up you got here.

    DKumar M.

    0
  5. 5

    Ryan says – “Tedwick, why don’t you get off your pasty ass and figure it out.”

    Nice one. :D

    The idea of having a dropdown is really good because it makes things look neat and clean. Thanks for the post!

    1
  6. 6

    I like the drop down menu with the “Display Menu”. Thanks!
    Fresh India Jobs

    -3
  7. 7

    Great post… i’m inspired… thanks

    0
  8. 8

    Great variety. It’s interesting to see how sites with a bunch of categories/sub categories handle their dropdowns.

    0
  9. 9

    @DKumar: there are various previous posts in the magazine which has a list of some great tutorials on drop down menus…maybe you missed those… use the search bar on top of the page.. you’ll find them… :)

    0
  10. 10

    It is always a pleasure to read SM articels. Thank you very much.

    0
  11. 11

    Really great post :) Thanks

    0
  12. 12

    ESPN.com’s drop-down menus annoy the hell out of me. They really need a hover delay … everytime my mouse brushes over them to a link I want to click on they’re popping up all over the place.

    grrrr.

    0
  13. 13

    As for the drop-down menus that have about a zillion choices, how can you call that good UI? I’d call it lazy UI. If you can’t make your interface simple, you haven’t worked at it enough. By publishing these as examples of good drop-downs, Smashing has endorsed them. That surprises me.

    0
    • 14

      I run a web retail site with 5000 unique item profiles. Dropdowns are the only practical way for customers to find exactly what they want, otherwise they just go away if they have to click more than a couple times to get where they want.

      1
  14. 15

    Its a super post.

    -2
  15. 16

    Hey whats the Problem with “Navigant Consulting”??? Dropdown is working without problems.

    Someone just didn’t wait for the background to be loaded?! Thats poor.

    0
  16. 17

    The best way to use drop down menus is to not use them at all, I think. Tabs and submenus work better, like my blog jenst.se, or another example: WordPress.

    -2
  17. 18

    Once again a very useful atricle. Just noticed though that the link on the whitehouse website thumbnail leads to zensender not sure if this was intended?

    -1
  18. 19

    Also see the dropdown menu of Magix

    -2
  19. 20

    This article is one week too late :) From week, i am coding multi-column dropdown menu from zero. Now it works well in ie6/7, mozilla etc.

    …but here i have a lot of good inspiration (and code). Uhhh :)

    -2
  20. 21

    I feel drop down menus restrict the wrist movements. They should turn a bit left while going down with increasing slope if more rows-responsive middle wheel if possible. Also the vertical should be as low as possible.

    -2
  21. 22

    Nice article, I’ve just rewritten for personal purposes the Porsche menu with semantic html, css and Jquery.
    Am I allowed to post a link to my article here?

    0
  22. 23

    Very comprehensive article guys! I’ve considered using drop down menu’s to save space many times but never actually used one!

    0
  23. 24

    The author claims one menu to be poor because of a small text size and in the same size another one is a good example while the text size is the same. I don’t think you have clear judgment there or at least you can’t argument yourself ergo your opinion is useless

    1
  24. 25

    I want to ask something, How to make Menu Semi-Transparent Background? it’s using transparent image or something? I’ve been try with png files, it can works in Firefox only. Anyone can help me?

    0
  25. 27

    Hi,
    Anyone knows a link to download the sample of mega menu?

    thanks

    0
  26. 28

    Great article.
    I will keep all these advices in mind for one of my next project… well, it will be better if I’ll read this article again when I’ll start the project :)

    0
  27. 29

    Great post. And great to see Misery Signals getting a nod anywhere on the internet!

    0
  28. 30

    I’m happy to have a website simple enough to avoid the use of drop-down menus. :3

    Personally I don’t really like hiding information like this, I prefer it all visible even though it might get cluttered, and will also require some clever thinking to solve this problem.

    -1
  29. 31

    Absolutely great article. I love this.

    0
  30. 32

    Well done to Google ad Media Temple being the ones I could find from that list who actually had keyboard access for their drop down menus.

    Unfortunately a lot of people just don’t consider keyboard access from either an accessibility or just plain user preference point of view.

    So well done to them :) An Interesting collection here.

    0
  31. 33

    Very nice post! very usefull as usual !! Well done Matt Cronin and thanks :D

    0
  32. 34

    I agree with David A and Jens Törnell. If you use a drop-down on your website it will most likely be less usable than with a traditional vertical/horisontal menu or tabs.

    The main problem with drop-downs is that they often reflect poor site structure… of course you can make them more user friendly using common sense and good design, but it doesn’t cure the disease.

    0
  33. 35

    Some beautiful menu styling here I must say.

    Although there is a very strong case of drop down menus making a site less usable, I feel in many cases they often improve usability too. It simply depends of how they have been implemented.

    If the basic menu is structured well in the first place this can often alleviate the issue of having drop downs as finding something is simple and easy. Give the user further choice once a section has been accessed.

    I also think that a back up method should be used just incase someone has some functionality turned off. A search can help solve multiple drops too.

    Really nice article though SM

    Cheers

    Tim

    -1
  34. 36

    nice post. great inspiration for future designs. :))

    -1
  35. 37

    Nice article …
    I think the main problem is for users who have javascript not-activated … in this case the drop-down menu is useless and maybe destory the design of the website. I prefer websites without drop-downs. But nevertheless great article.

    regards
    k42b3

    -2
  36. 38

    OSM, I like this post.

    -1
  37. 39

    Intel, Garmin and Logitech dropdowns make it hard to tell which section the dropdown belongs to.

    The EA-dropdown doesn’t seem “very clean and well-organized” at all from the screenshot.

    -1
  38. 40

    Drop-down menus are rarely a good idea. Try doing some research into their usability before recommending them. They slow down browsing and misrepresent the content on the site by forcing the user to browse the site the way the designer views the IA instead of what would actually be useful. They really are one of the banes of the internet. Everyone thinks they’re a good idea but they’re far from practical.

    -1
  39. 41

    Another great article. Thanks again!

    0
  40. 42

    There is no problem with Navigant Consulting like the screenshot. Tried the website in IE6 en Firefox. Maybe you should correct that one?

    0
  41. 43

    From a branding point of view, i think we have to be careful to not hide the logo or main visual with a drop down menu.
    This can give a bad feeling about the brand.

    0
  42. 44

    The Navigant Dropdown works fine with no errors, and the design of it is good, anyway Good Artitcal

    0
  43. 45

    Although I think there are some usability issues with drop down menus, I beg to differ that they are as bad as some here have claimed. Sometimes there is no good way to drill down through sub menu after sub menu especially if offering a wide and diversified series of products. Granted I think that the best possible hierarchy should be developed and provided along side a well developed and easy to use drop down, but the drop down can provide one click access to deeply buried pages.

    Great collection. Got my morning research to do! Thanks

    0
  44. 46

    Drop down menus are useless but some still use them

    -2
  45. 47

    Great article, Vimeo.com also has an awesome dropdown menu too. Thanks!

    0
  46. 48

    Love the article , Thanks!

    Anybody have a link to the “click to activate” drop downs referenced on css-tricks?

    0
  47. 49

    Loving or hating drop down – which is other options to manage too many options on a bar or menu?

    Tabs, ajax tabs, div popup (with grayback) ??
    Anything that doesn’t need refresh the page?

    0
  48. 50

    I love the drop down menu on Seattle Sounders. It’s nice and clean and uses advertising wisely within the drop down itself.

    0
  49. 51

    At last ! Need some code now ;)

    0
  50. 52

    Great work, very complete.Thanks.

    But is coincidence? http://www.useit.com/alertbox/mega-dropdown-menus.html

    0
  51. 53

    @viz Drop down menus are useless but some still use them

    Think carefully about what you just said, I talk better sense sat on the loo!

    Great article, I found it very enlightening! Good work!

    0
  52. 54

    The Helmy Bern image links to the wrong site (Sony USA.)

    Personally, I would place Helmy in the “Poorly Constructed” category. The navigation tooltips kill the graphic styling and dropdown effects.

    Still, this is a good article, and definitely worth bookmarking.

    0
  53. 55

    It is worth mentioning that:

    1) Drop-downs are INACCESSIBLE in many ways (problems and good alternatives):

    http://www.message.uk.com/index.php?page=81

    2) They’re not meant to get you somewhere but to LET YOU DO SOMETHING

    http://www.kitsimons.com/journal/bad-practice-in-user-interface-design-misuse-of-the-drop-down-menu

    I won’t bug you with more links. These two are pretty enough to make you think before you get caught by all the fancy stuff written in the article above, basically telling you how to make bigger evil less evil. I’m not an extremist, that’s just for educational purposes. In my opinion, such a big article regarding drop down menus technique not mentioning its very essential issues (everyone should be aware of) is simply not professional. I’d expect more from SM. If you think that’s just a bunch of bullshit, consider why most of the biggest and most popular sites (e.g. CNN, BBC, YouTube, etc.) avoid using drop-downs for navigation and ‘keep it simple, stupid’ instead.

    -2
  54. 56

    This article is a great compilation of best practices in drop-down menu front-end design.

    If you are ready to get started on your own, you need to check out the code for ADxMenu from Aleksandar Vacić. This is the best example I’ve ever seen. It is 100% CSS except for a small javascript file for IE6. link: aplus.rs/adxmenu/

    I implemented it at http://www.tirerack.com and it worked great. For the record, they requested the multiple-level expanding menus, but because it is all organized in a giant it is great for SEO!

    0
  55. 57

    Awesome post!
    Very usefull!

    0
  56. 58

    Interesting article, but you left out one very big issue: Most of the sites you choose as being especially functional do not work without javascript. As someone who routinely disables javascript, I see no menus at Porsche or IBM, and the Target.com page never loaded at all. That’s not my idea of a good design.

    -1
  57. 59

    @Thinker
    Even with background loaded on the ‘Navigant Consulting’ menu, it’s still to hard to read.

    @Concerned
    Why do you have Javascript disabled? It’s 2009 man, gotta get with the times. As you stated, many major sites require the use of Javascript. If your worried about security, perhaps you should change your browser :)

    3
  58. 60

    CSS drop down menus can be very useful when there are many areas to navigate to for a web site, but you failed to mention that working CSS should never be tied to or dependent on the browser having JavaScript running.

    There are quite a few sites I’ve seen that seem to think CSS navigation should not work unless you have JavaScript turned on, which completely defeats the reason for using CSS navigation in the first place.

    2
  59. 61

    @Concerned
    Oh please. Who disables JS nowadays? Disabling JS while using the internet is like disabling color when watching TV – you miss out on a lot of good stuff.

    1
  60. 62

    Drop down menus are sure a tricky one – thanks for the samples you’ve put together! I like that a lot of the new menus seem to be more flat color areas with well separated large text links. The boxy, line-filled, compartmentalized menus of the past seem to be going away. Yahooo!

    0
  61. 63

    Definitely look into ADxMenu for an excellent example of an easy, powerful, free, highly expandable, CSS drop-down menu structure that uses no Javascript (except for IE6).

    Having implemented it on tirerack.com, I swear by it. Google “ADxMenu”.

    Sorry for comment duplication: I seem to be having trouble getting my comments to post if I provide links. I get stuck at “awaiting moderation”. Is this normal for everybody when you put links in the comment?

    0
  62. 64

    Are there any articles on this website that do not find a way to pick on Microsoft? Geesh!

    1
  63. 65

    good topic.

    Look:

    0
  64. 66

    really nice post and roundup of some great inspiration

    0
  65. 67

    I’m surprised this article didn’t mention the emerging trend of using 1 dropdown menu to display all navigation options.

    Here’s an example which uses Flash, though I think this could be done using jQuery just as easily:
    http://ares.netgame.com/

    -1
  66. 68

    I was just wondering what the best option to show a search box for a corporate box was… and it is now very clear: a mega drop down

    Great article! thanks for the inspiration!

    0
    • 69

      If you read Nielsen’s article he specifically cites search boxes as something that should be visible at all times (ie not in dropdown)

      1
  67. 70

    Interesting article but there was no mention of keyboard navigation usability issues.

    -1
  68. 71

    RE: no javascript…

    There are a wide variety of reasons why someone might want or need to disable js. Here’s a short list:

    1. People who, due to a disability, use alternate methods of navigating the web. It is very common for poorly written javascript (read: almost all of it) to make it difficult or impossible to use keyboard/voice/etc. methods to access content or navigate. As a result, many turn off js in order to not have to deal with the headache.

    2. People who have older, slower machines, and can’t afford to get a new one. Even on my laptop, which isn’t super old, a poorly written script or two can bring the browser to its knees. The only real solution if you want to use the site? Turn off js or install noscript.

    3. Protection against XSS & CSRF attacks. These attacks are browser-independent, and will work just as well on Firefox, Safari, and Opera as they do on IE. Without the protection of an extension like noscript (or without turning off js) I need to trust every single site I visit to not have security holes. Given that I’ve personally found many XSS/CSRF vulnerabilities in supposedly trustworthy commercial sites with just cursory attempts (and I am not a skilled hacker) I have very little faith that randomsite.com can’t be compromised. Hence, noscript.

    I could go on, but my point is that any web developer who says, “It’s 2009, dude! Just turn on javascript already!” is pretty inconsiderate of the very good reasons why someone might not have js on. I think what’s really being said is, “I’m lazy and don’t want to put in the extra effort that would make my site work as plain HTML.”

    -1
  69. 72

    How do you achieve the transparent background effect? Also the swipe hover effect that media temple uses?

    0
  70. 73

    Great article!

    0
  71. 74

    In the mac.appstorm site, the last menu “how-to” goes to the right on mouseover. I’m using Firefox & 1280px resolution :S

    0
  72. 75

    Thanks for these navbar designs. I’m in the beginning stages of redesigning a friend’s site and of course it always helps to see what new at Smashing Magazine to get my creativity flowing.

    0
  73. 76

    Nice post – good to see some example of ‘what not to do’.

    0
  74. 77

    Nice collection, great article. I checked most of them, but i think Sony Drop Down Sucks

    0
  75. 78

    “Even with background loaded on the ‘Navigant Consulting’ menu, it’s still to hard to read.”

    Nonsense. Navigant Consulting’s menus are fine.

    0
  76. 79

    Nice collection but I would have used “best buy” as an example of what NOT to do, it’s not clear which heading that drop down menu is sitting under.

    0
  77. 80

    I think Xerox has a great downdown menu.

    A great use of Photography and color
    xerox

    0
  78. 81

    you guys always help me!!
    I’ve been looking for some drop-down menu since morning.
    thanks a lot!

    0
  79. 82

    Tut for a mega drop-down menu will be nice.
    Thanks.

    0
  80. 83

    I think TheITDepot Link[www.theitdepot.com] has a brilliant dropdown.. I haven’t seen it on all broswers, but it definitely looks good on FF…

    0
  81. 84

    Now we need some tutorials on some of these effects.

    0
  82. 85

    I like the dropdown menu on the aviary site aviary.com

    0
  83. 86

    I still think that about half of these examples use drop downs as a fix for an otherwise inefficiently structured website. They might look nice, if that’s what you’re going for.

    0
  84. 87

    @Idemium that’s utter and complete nonsense.

    I don’t know how many times i’ve had to put up with people telling me crap like that. Does this mean you ban scrollbars (god forbid a user scrolls the header in your page’s logo out of view!).

    Or how about a paper flyer. Let’s say I fold it, so the company’s big logo on the front is no longer visible. Do you really think I am going to feel bad about this company all of a sudden?

    0
  85. 88

    great post. i feel Xerox.com’s menu is elegant too…

    0
  86. 89

    Can anyone tell me how I remove tooltips without having to remove the title attr from the link?

    0
  87. 90

    Thanks for very informative article. Just one comment on Helmy Bern site: they forgot to prevent the animation queue – when you run fast with your mouse over the navigation back and forth, submenus are fading in and out again and again.

    Quick tip how to solve this is on the Learning jQuery website.

    0
  88. 91

    Cool; now, does anyone have links to some good tutorials or code-bases for any of these examples? :)

    0
  89. 92

    really great post but if you make a tutorial for drop down menus its will be super!

    0
  90. 93

    Excellent collection of does and don’ts.

    0
  91. 94

    Hi, nice article. Interesting to see that some big firms get it and other don’t :-)

    For a good overview of pure CSS based dropdown menus see also cssplay.co.uk. Stu Nicholls does a great job there. And also his menus with a touch of JS here.
    Recently he created a seperate page to showcase his cssmenus on cssmenus.co.uk.
    If you’re interested in pure CSS options that work xbrowser check them out.

    0
  92. 95

    Well, I just wasted a week of my life trying to get a CSS drop-down menu to work on a corporate site I’m building. The problem isn’t the menu, but Internet Explorer. By the time I get the menu working right for everyone on Macs and most Windows users, someone with a funky IE configuration complains. There are fixes, sure, requiring an additional script (JS), but in the end, sure enough, there’s someone who has javascript turned off.

    I’m ready to tear the whole thing out and start over.

    0
  93. 96

    Thibaut Allender

    March 29, 2009 2:06 pm

    Interesting article and examples but I can’t agree on a few points:

    - Hover : if this is the best practice then explain me why ALL (or nearly every) operating systems and applications use clickable dropdown menus? Hover dropdowns appeared on the web and have become a widely used method but still BAD or unusable when badly implemented (as pointed out, you need delays and so on). Moreover, it’s harder and more time consuming to implement.

    - Click to close: yes, but you should attach an event to the document so clicking anywhere closes the menu as well.

    - Levels : only one is enough, question yourself about your website architecture if you need more. A secondary navigation in heavy sections is a far better option.

    I would also warn readers about mixing dropdown menus with flash content… Don’t forget to set the wmode parameter of your flash object to “opaque” or “transparent” otherwise the flash object would always be on top (even if the z-indexes are correctly defined).

    My 2 cents…

    0
  94. 97

    good info

    0
  95. 98

    Great article……
    Very useful….

    0
  96. 99

    hi,
    i just want to know how to hide the javascript file, what webassist.com had done for their mega menu. i know that with javascript it can not be done.

    thanks

    0
  97. 100

    sorry for the typo,
    in the above comment i just wanted to say “It can not be done without the help of javascript”.

    -1
  98. 101

    Amaging………….. WOW

    0
  99. 102

    http://www.emc.com/?fromGlobalSiteSelect

    another extensive menu drop down

    0
  100. 103

    I just love You for theese posts! Thanks again

    0
  101. 104

    Oh please. Who disables JS nowadays? Disabling JS while using the internet is like disabling color when watching TV – you miss out on a lot of good stuff.

    A lot of people do. Mainly Firefox users. NoScript is one of the most popular FireFox extensions ever. It disables javascript unless you specifically whitelist a site. A large portion of FireFox users will see your site with JavaScript disabled.

    -6
  102. 105

    Check out the menu at http://www.gigfish.com. Not bad.

    1
  103. 106

    tht thing with the navigant consulting drop down menu. It just isn’t fair, why didn’t you change it? One of the well-designed sites and you put in #1 bad example. Very POOR! Disappointed…

    -5
  104. 107

    Cartographic mapping

    September 27, 2009 9:55 pm

    very useful and informative post. thanks for sharing.
    regards
    SBL

    -4
  105. 108

    A nice combination of a simple Drop-Down with Grunge-Design can be found here:

    Moderne Ausbildung – German Education site

    -2
  106. 109

    Anyone have a demo link to do the Philips drop down. That’s one of the best i’ve seen so far.

    0
  107. 110

    Nice stuff !!

    2
  108. 111

    hey guys does any one know of any other tutorials other than the on on sitepoint?

    1
  109. 112

    Really good staff ! As I’m moving on in web design and development all those delicate things are very usefull to notice and kep in mind. Thank’s a lot!

    1
  110. 113

    I found Clinique website menu – http://www.clinique.com/ – very well executed. Looks like put a lot of thought into it.

    0
  111. 114

    Great read!

    Telia Denmark has a beatiful mega drop execution to. Usefull deeplinks and simple CTA elements to the far right.

    -2
  112. 115

    Some really good ones in here.

    This post helped quite a bit in helping me find good examples for the drop down menu I am working on.

    0
  113. 116

    Great information… one question…

    What is your opinion about having the parent menu item click-able to allow you to land on a page (usually the introduction page for the children).

    My friend uses it all the time, but it is new to me. I say, how would I know that I should click it and not just go directly to the children menu items. He says it is usually used for information that is not always needed (sort of intro info only).

    Do you have an opinion?

    0
  114. 117

    Would piss me off to be part of Navigant consulting and getting this unfair ‘Poorly Constructed Menus’ section just because the author didnt try a bit more. Works perfect and should be corrected. Disapointing from SM…

    -3
  115. 118

    Great article, very informative and has given me lots of ideas.
    Many thanks.

    1
  116. 119

    Brian Stephenson

    July 12, 2010 12:13 pm

    Those who mention “disabling” javascript for security reasons kind of make me smile. If you are that afraid of the internet that you turn off javascript just in case someone has figured out how to “get” you (which BTW is damn hard in javascript), then maybe you should not be browsing the internet in the first place. Reminds me of the argument I had as a director of network security, with my upper management demanding a more secure network to the point of complete paranoia. I smiled and unplugged the network line from my main server and said “Look, 100% secure! Oh wait, you didn’t tell me you actually wanted to do WORK with this computer, just that you want it totally secure, which it is”. Security and usability are always a balancing act, but IMHO disabling javascript is over the top in terms of protecting yourself on the ‘Net. ActiveX with its many holes you can turn off, but Web 2.0 (coming soon to an internet near you!) REQUIRES javascript, so disabling it will eventually mean you are going to limit yourself to the sites that are not the cutting edge web sites. And PS, javascript isn’t just for cute menus and visual effects, it has MANY useful backend document manipulation functions that can help make a web site much more use friendly.

    5
  117. 120

    this site looks wayyy messed up in IE6, I can’t even read this article.

    -11
  118. 121

    Great collection….!!!!
    lot of thanks to you guys

    0
  119. 122

    Excellent collection of Drop down menu…….!!!

    1
  120. 123

    Absolutely Wonderful, good reading before starting a dropdown for a Website. Tutorials for some of these would be Fantastic.

    0
  121. 124

    Excellent article. Guess I am going to drop down menu school for the next month to improve my websites. Just when I thought I could relax and play warcraft :(

    Thanks for creating this article.

    2
  122. 125

    Very nice post! very usefull as usual !! Absolutely great article. I love this.

    0
  123. 126

    Wow really informative article. Thanks for sharing.

    Korina

    0
  124. 127

    I found Car Covers website menu – http://carcovers4less.com/ – very well executed. Looks like they put a lot of thought into it.

    -4
  125. 128

    How about this Rims website menu – http://www.instockrims.com/ – very well executed. Looks like they put a lot of design into it.

    -3
  126. 129

    Nice stuff:)
    I’ve also just created mega menu using drupal, can be view here victheme.com/demo_product/16
    Any review or comments are welcome, thx.

    0
  127. 130

    Regarding drop-down menus, I cannot determine which spry menubar.css rule contains the specific element I want to change. For example, if I wish to change the color of a specific submenu element, how can I determine which .css rule controls that when there is so many listed? I have worked with this til’ i am blue in the face but to no avail. Is there a tutorial I can use? Please help me!

    1
  128. 131

    Another sample for easy learning vertical and horizontal menu (pure css)
    check it out here:
    http://www.webkeet.com/CSS_HorizontalFlyOutMenu.aspx

    0
  129. 132

    Sangram Nandkhile

    October 5, 2011 5:19 am

    Wow !! Good Observation and great article..loved it.

    Please have a look at this stunning Green Nature Drop Down.

    http://blogshippo.blogspot.com/2011/09/how-to-make-css-drop-down-menu-bar.html

    2
  130. 133

    What I don’t like in dropdown menus, most designers use hover event to open them. Now look at windows menus. You have to click to open it. How much time I was annoyed by accidentally hovering over menu and then it overlaps link I wanted to click. Even on sites I visit every day, it still bugs me.

    Another issue (if I actially need to use that menu) it closes immediately as I remove my cursor. You move mouse too far, you need to re-open that menu again. Now look at windows menus again. They closes only when you click mouse.

    I do realize this is because you need to write extra code to make it more usable, also all tutorials do not write about such things.

    1
  131. 134

    Do anyone knows about modern drops down menu? clean and clear menu?

    0
  132. 135

    Click-on/Click-off drop-down menu is the best way, IMO. Hover menu is disaster when it comes to touch screens.

    0
  133. 136

    Thanks for this, really useful for a newbie to web design. What alternatives are there to drop down menus which keep the screen nice and clean, but are also simple for a beginner to understand and code something similar?

    0
  134. 137

    Very Funny…………………..Not working!

    0
  135. 138

    By using a dropdown menu with a large list of categories and sub-categories, you will improve the user experience of your visitors, increasing the likelihood that they will return to your site in the future.

    0
  136. 139

    Great post!

    I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on having a promotion banner inside a drop down menu? To see a sample of what I’m trying to describe, please visit partycity.com, and hover over “Theme Parties” in the top nav menu.

    Thanks!

    0
  137. 140

    I can tell you are not a web designer or developer.
    25% of web work is related to browser incompatibly problems. Internet Explorer is the problem.

    Microsoft is to software that Chrysler is to cars.

    We are coding for lemons here. Nuff said.

    -1
  138. 141

    Drop down menus are an essential cornerstone of usability. Enough sites use them that you could call them an industry standard.

    I think its great that small sites can avoid them. But at a certain point there is simply no better way.

    These days surfing the web without JS on is like using IE6. Don’t expect the web to work as it should.

    Great article!

    0
  139. 142

    - agreed that they do so,
    but they do so because they are not a very bright bunch

    5

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