Split Tab-Dynamic Menu Navigation

This isn’t an earth shattering observation, and you’ve probably already seen this, but I just wanted to point out a navigation technique that seems to be spreading around quite a bit. I’m calling the “split tab-dynamic menu navigation.”

Basically, there is both a tab (or main navigation link) and a dynamic menu both associated with a single label. I say “split” because there are two regions to click:

  1. The tab label itself. This usually brings you to the overivew page for that section.
  2. A small arrow to the right of the tab label. This is often visually separated with a pipe or with a rollover effect. Clicking this reveals a dynamic menu.

Flickr seems to have been the first to have done this. I think they won an award for their navigation sometime. It’s been around for a couple of years, at least. But I’ve been noticing may others doing this as well. Other examples include:

  • Daylife – This works like flickr, with the main tab going to overview page and the dynamic menu extending from the arrow only.
  • Pop Sugar Network – There is a split tab here, but clicking on both the tab and the arrow reveals the navigation menu.

An aside: I also found the labeling scheme of the local navigation on Pop Sugar interesting. To avoid misunderstanding of the options but keep jargon in the navigation experience, they replace the navigation with a different label. So you get “TV/Movies” on the surface, but on rollover the label changes to “Buzz.” I think this works for this site, but I wouldn’t recommend it for some other sites.

About Jim Kalbach

Head of Customer Experience at MURAL

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