|Menu Design Guide|
See also: list of drop-down menu applets
Drop-down menu design considerations
There are many drop-down menus on the market, and the majority are traps. Inform yourself
especially carefully about what to look for in drop-down menus before you commit yourself
to a purchase.
List of menu design guides:
web buttons and animated buttons,
Also known as framecrossing, this refers to the ability of a drop-down menu
to cross over the edges of frames - and also the edges of browser windows and plug-ins
such as flash and applets. A framebusting drop-down menu is what most people really
want when they think of a drop-down menu, and it can be a great disappointment if
you find you have bought something which can't do this. DHTML menus
- Submenu appearance.
Possibly the second great issue with drop-down menus is what the submenus look like.
Long ago, the only strong point of DHTML menus was that their submenus looked slightly
better (typically customisable coloured boxes with a border), while most java menus
originally used AWT submenus, which have a fixed appearance that is dependent on
the operating system. Java AWT submenus can look good on Mac OS X and Windows XP,
but older operating systems made them look very dull. The java/DHTML dilemma used
to be: do I get decent submenus but forget framecrossing (DHTML) or do I go for
framecrossing and compromise on submenu appearance (java AWT)? However from the
earliest days, one company (ourselves) was pioneering java drop-down menus with optically
configurable submenus, which combined all the advantages of DHTML, java and flash.
Various versions of these are available - check here.
- Compatibility issues.
language, which has long been a minefield of non-standardisation, with every browser
manufacturer constantly changing its specification from one browser version to the next.
DHTML menus provide very little future-safety, and even the most conscientious developer
is unlikely to have been able to test them on a sufficient variety of existing browser
versions. This is again a reason for opting for a java drop-down menu. While java also
has its varieties, compatibility issues are far fewer - on the whole, the necessary modules
for drop-down menus have been stable and reliable in almost every java virtual machine.
- Scalability and oversize menus.
A well-programmed drop-down menu should be able to handle 10,000 menu items
simultaneously without loss of performance. Only one company offers a
scalability guarantee. If you have a large
menu, or a menu with oversize items, you should also realize that good menus
have the following features available: scrolling submenus, line-wrapping menus,
screen-edge detection and bounce-back, intelligent submenu sizing. Your menu
doesn't have to end up looking like a bloated Windows start menu filling up
the whole screen - it can handle large indices and still be an object of
beauty that complements your web design!
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