[thelist] Why not drop-down javascript navigation?

Sam sam at sam-i-am.com
Tue Jul 1 11:26:23 CDT 2003

you can make the argument either way. It is very possible to reduce 
weight on a page by using a javascript driven menu that takes data from 
a cacheable external js data file.
And if your pages are even halfway structured the navigation may be just 
noise from an indexing and searchability point of view.
The main reason people use javascript dropdown menus is to reduce the 
clutter of information on the screen and gain screen real-estate for the 
actual content vs persistant navigation options, while reducing the 
clicks necessary to get to deep content.

Those are the pros. The cons are in the complexity you add - creating 
cross-browser menus is not easy, and even implementing a 3rd party menu 
can narrow options and generally make like more difficult. And its a 
moving target with new browser releases happening all the time and 
browser usage shifting. You have to consider fallbacks for users without 
javascript available or enabled. The compatibility alone creates a big 
testing burden. And there are frequently interaction problems - most 
menus require fine motor control and very deliberate and accurate  mouse 
movements that are a barrier to accessibility. And frequently users dont 
clue to the fact the dropdowns are even there.
Then there are issues like the problems with menus not overlapping form 
controls and flash movies.

you should weigh the options. It undoubtably adds work for you, but the 
gain might be worthwhile. If you just dont like working with javascript 
dont be surprised if your client ends up going elsewhere.

I'm not going to supply references for one way or the other - unless the 
study was conducted with a directly comparable site it's likely not 
relevant anyway. You and your client need to look at competitor sites 
and sites dealing with similar content offerings and see what works and 
what doesnt, and what his/her budget will stretch to.

 From your point of view as the designer/developer its always wise to 
Keep It Simple Stupid, but simple rarely gets people noticed, and most 
clients have more than gaining their users satisfaction to content with.


> I have a not-tech-savvy client who wants some javascript drop-down menus
> like what you see on janes.com. I am recommending against it because well
> its javascript and it will most likely add weight to the page, which we
> cannot really sustain due to the low bandwidth net connection of the server,
> and it probably won't work well across all browsers as well as that it hides
> navigation from users and key words from serach engines and last but not
> least that it is too much information.
> Can anyone suggest any articles or research I can use to back up this point
> of view? thanks
> <-->
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