[thelist] Drop-down menu items

Eric Miller eric at OAKTREE.com
Fri Jan 5 13:27:11 CST 2001

does anyone else read this as "bed-bat-hand-beyond"?

sort of like the problems people had understanding the purpose of Expert's

well, duh.  you don't want an amateur doing your transsexual surgery, do

heh.  word to the wise: run your new URL by a 14-year-old boy before you
base a business plan on it...

but seriously now, folks...though Nielsen frequently has his self-righteous
head up his posterior, he's got a point about DHTML.  it's really hard to do
it right for everyone and make it intuitive.  Frequently DHTML menus,
especially multi-level menus, are a solution in search of a problem.  I
think it's usually easier to restructure the content than to write some
complex sitewide DHTML code to navigate it.

his opinions on Flash are another matter.

I always thought it was a law of nature that you couldn't layer objects over
one another, but here comes Second Story to tell us that you can.
Behold--Real Player layered over Flash in the browser (not via SMIL)
Click on #9.

-----Original Message-----
From: Brown, Robert [mailto:Robert.Brown at lot21.com]
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2001 9:47 AM
To: 'thelist at lists.evolt.org'
Subject: RE: [thelist] Drop-down menu items

Big Sites do use drop downs...


Dropdown menu's are for data hiding...
They are used to hide the items that are not frequently used or are
considered advanced. In creating navigation you don't want to hide the
popular, or crucial actions, or items. 

Mr. Nielsen argues that drop down menus are used for everything from
specifying parameters, to navigation, and that in doing so the user might
have a problem in perceiving the actions of a drop down menu.

Another issue with creating DHTML drop down menus is creating correct
behaviors of the menu's. From experience in creating DHTML menus in a
design. The menus had somewhere around 7 to 12 different event handlers
attached to each menu...

I would recommended asking yourself, do you really need them. Are they for
the design or the user.

Mr. Nielsen's dropdown article http://useit.com/alertbox/20001112.html

-----Original Message-----
From: Andy Olsen [mailto:andyo at tds.net]
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2001 9:11 AM
To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
Subject: [thelist] Drop-down menu items

What's the rap on drop-down menu items?

I've got a client who requested this. So, I went to 
http://www.webreference.com/dhtml/hiermenus/index.html and got their script 
and modified it. I finally got it worked out and their tech guy started 
saying it was a dumb idea.

Basically, this guy is saying that a) the Big Site don't use it and b) 
Jakob Nielsen says don't use eye candy or unusual navigation items. He is a 
Nielsen acolyte and says we should do what al the big sites do so people 
see things that are not new and they are comfortable with. He also says 
that it is distracting for people when they mouse over the menu on the way 
elsewheres and the menu pops up.

My point is that the techniques were dropped for some time because of the 
shaky implementation of javascript. Now, however, JS implementation is 
getting better, and 83% or more of the users out there have browsers that 
can handle this. The menus can be built to degrade gracefully for other

So, why do the big sites not use this? Is it a disaster?

And, for the love of Pete, why is Jakob Nielsen's site so ghastly if he is 
such a guru? 

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