Most Drop-Down Menus Should Die, and Here's Why

Drop-Down Menus Should Die

Today's web designers have so many options to consider when creating pages for their clients. One of these is the drop-down menu. Before you add one, be sure to consider both the benefits as well as the potential drawbacks.

What Makes Drop-Down Menus Work

A drop-down menu is ideal if you want an uncluttered site design for your next freelance web designer job. By hiding the main links under logical categories, you can have a clean homepage for your client. If a visually clear design is important for you, then this might be the solution.

Drop-down menus are also beneficial in situations were a site needs to house thousands of pages. For instance, in the case of a supplier who has thousands of products, a drop-down menu is logical. People can see the main categories on a top-line menu or a sidebar, without having to scroll through an infinitely large home page.

Why Drop-Down Menus Might Not Work

If drop-down menus make the site uncluttered, and an uncluttered design is your goal, why wouldn’t you want to use them? The answer lies in the way users interact with sites.

Most website visitors will visually scan the site when they arrive, looking for what they need. If they don't see it quickly, they leave. Drop-down menus hid the site's content, and if they do this too well, you might end up with a bounce rate well over 50 percent. Many visitors simply will not hover over a menu to see what's there. Labrow Marketing warns this is one of the biggest drawbacks of drop-down menus.

Drop-down menus are often used because the designer is lazy. Instead of creating a layout that includes all important page elements clearly visible to the user at a glance, the designer relies on drop-down menus because they are easy. A professional web design company may also find that clients demand them, thinking they are the latest and greatest design option to get all information on the page without too many links. These clients need to be educated about the way website visitors interact with websites.

Finally, drop down menus may not work for all users, warns inSquare Media. A user on a mobile device cannot easily access a hover drop down menu, for instance, because of the lack of a mouse. The smaller the screen size, the harder the drop-down menu is to operate. If all users cannot access a site, it might as well not exist.

Drop down menus should not be the go-to design option. When used well they can help create a clean, clutter-free design, but they also can complicate the user experience. Contact us today to learn more about creating user-friendly websites that work for all users.

Nicole H is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.

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