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Mega Menus: Choosing an Effective Website Navigation

May 17, 2022

If you were visiting an unfamiliar area for a nature hike, you’d want to be equipped with the necessary tools to find your way around. That might be a paper map, a GPS, or a compass. A website can be thought of the same way: people must be able to easily navigate it. But what’s the best digital equivalent for website wayfinding? Many people believe it’s a well-designed mega menu.

What’s a Mega Menu?

A mega menu is a popular website navigation UI/UX choice. It typically appears as a large panel with multiple columns at the top of a webpage when people tap, click, or hover over it.

Designed to group website content into logical categories, mega menus expand on basic drop-down menus to include more information, as well as icons or images if desired. A mega menu’s multi-level expansions allow all (or nearly all) of the website navigation to be viewed in a single menu. Everything can be seen at-a-glance, so there’s no needless scrolling or clicking on submenus.

Mega menus are most commonly used in large website projects with many categories and subcategories. They are particularly helpful for e-Commerce retailers and large corporate sites. The flexibility of layouts, typography, and imagery within a mega menu allows businesses to clearly orient website visitors to different products, services, and departments.

Here’s an example of a mega menu on tbk’s website:

visual of mega menu from tbk website

The Benefits of Mega Menus

Mega menus offer many benefits, including:

An Improved User Experience

Mega menus tend to greatly improve user experience (UX). Regular drop-down menus often require people to scroll down and back up again, creating a somewhat frustrating and disorienting web experience. But a mega menu gives people everything they need to navigate a website in one spot. Design cues such as different colours and fonts make it easy for people to browse and find what they need with very little friction.

Increased Click-Throughs & Conversions

Mega menus can also increase click-throughs and conversions. Since the navigation is more intuitive and comprehensive, people are more likely to take the action you want them to while they’re visiting your website. When it’s easier and faster for an interested visitor to get where they want to go, the likelihood of conversions increases.

Possible SEO Advantages

Search engine optimization tactics are hotly debated and rapidly changing to keep pace with Google algorithm updates. You will find people who think mega menus can be detrimental to SEO while others insist mega menus are a sure-fire way to assist with SEO rankings. A lot has to do with how the mega menu is designed. Creating the proper silo architecture can help power SEO by giving your website an extra layer of organization and grouping relevant keywords together.

When Not to Use a Mega Menu

If your website is quite simplistic and doesn’t have a lot of links or subpages, it usually doesn’t make sense to include a mega menu. It’s overkill. This is the most common reason businesses choose to stick with a regular drop-down menu.

Another reason you may not want a mega menu on your website is because you lack the ability to make it mobile responsive. tbk has a team of seasoned software engineers who can make mega menus look and function great on both desktop and mobile devices. Without that expertise, mega menus can be illegible on smaller screens, nullifying the UX benefits and introducing serious accessibility issues.

Best Practices When Designing Mega Menus

When designing a mega menu, there are several best practices to keep in mind. Our marketing-technology agency often recommends mega menus to clients, and these principles lead our design thinking.

  • Keep mega menus clean and roomy – Don’t overload website visitors by cramming many links too closely together. Leave some white space to create breathing room.
  • Group links logically in priority order – Help people quickly understand their choices. Use concise, descriptive labels for categories and subcategories.
  • Make mega menus visually appealing – Use different colours, fonts, text weights, and icons or images when appropriate to emphasize which options belong together.

If you’re looking to build a new website or redesign the one you currently have, reach out to tbk’s team to discuss whether a mega menu is right for your business. We’ve designed and built hundreds of high-performing, modern websites—and we can create one for you, too.

Considering tbk for an upcoming website, branding, or digital marketing project? 
Let’s talk about your goals and how tbk can help.

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