Information Overload: Web Design and the Mega Menu

13th April

If you’re anything like us it was probably quite a lot. As of mid last year it was estimated that 1.2 Zetabytes of information has been digitised worldwide. It’s hard to imagine what that number truly represents so let’s just assume that it’s a headache-inducingly large amount and move on. What we can all understand though, is that information is no longer the scarce resource it has been in the past.

Today the most precious commodity online is attention. Economies of attention and distraction dictate who comes to your site and how they get there, how engaged they are and ultimately how long they stay. It’s time to really think about how we are going to cope with with this new info-reality in light of the increasingly limited attention budget we all have.

For those of us who care about designing online experiences the key question here is: how do we allow our users to find the content they want before we lose their attention to that amusing picture of someones cat?

Call us biased but, we think that engagement focused web design, streamlined navigation and efficient content management are some of the best tools we have for courting the attention of users. One great feature that incorporates all of this is the imaginatively named “mega menu”. Mega menus are exactly what they sound like, huge drop-down menus that use several familiar ways of presenting information and encouraging user participation.

A mega menu uses limited screen space efficiently and has the added benefit of increased interactivity, being designed from the ground up to engage the users attention far more effectively than traditional table-of-contents-style lists.

Obviously, we’re fans of the mega menu. However, the way this feature is usually implemented doesn’t do it justice. What we’re finding is that, increasingly, mega menus are just bigger versions of regular menus, designed to be novel but ultimately pointless.

Here are 25 examples of these boring walls of text.

Over the decade we’ve been in this business we’ve come to understand the delicate balance between standardisation and innovation. On the one hand you don’t want to alienate visitors with crazy design features that confuse and bewilder. On the other, there is a reason websites don’t look the way they did in the 90s.

At Fatpublisher we think one of the best solutions to this problem is to take advantage of something you do all the time: visual search. Visual search relies on image differentiation to locate information rather than textual comprehension. It is a much faster way sorting through large amounts of data.

By blending both visual and text based searches with relevant content in an interactive and engaging navigation feature, users are given every reason not to be distracted. Ultimately this means they get what they want with minimal resistance and distraction, creating a positive experience and brand association, in turn growing your relationship with your users.

For us, features that intuitively interface between user and content are the key to dealing with this data deluge. They maximise economies of attention and limit the frustration factor.

We could keep talking about this (seriously, we love this stuff), but really that defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Why not see what we’re talking about for yourself; go and play with our latest mega menu. Our web developers this one for our friends at Waterplex who help save water with their innovative water tanks. You can always see other examples of our work here too.

And If you like what you see, maybe you’d like to send us your thoughts on a new or upcoming project. It’s easy, just visit our Create a Brief page.

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