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HomeGuidelines  > 6. Make meaningful menus.                


To make your menus more meaningful:

6a. Think of a heading as an object you reuse many times.

6b. Write each menu so it offers a meaningful structure.

6c. Offer multiple routes to the same information.

6d. Write and display several levels at once.

6e. When users arrive at the target, make it obvious.

6f. Confirm the location by showing its position in the hierarchy.

6. Make meaningful menus.

Your menus can lead people into your content--or repel.

Too many menu systems confuse people. They click a menu item, and end up on a page they never anticipated. The title is different, the major heading seems irrelevant, the opening text has nothing to do with the original linktext.  How did this happen?

Creativity. Different  people work on the menu, and the page. Each person comes up with a personal vision of the page.  Result: a mismatch between linktext, title, heading, and content.

Rebuff folks often enough, and they back out of your site.

Here are some guidelines to ponder as you build your site.  We use terms from object-oriented programming and XML, but you can write good menus even without those tools to enforce consistency.

You are offering people a way to browse through your site, and, along the way, an image of the structure of your content. Menus serve as conceptual models. How meaningful are your menus today?

Resources on menus

Taking a Position on Menus

Heuristic Online Text (H. O. T.) Evaluation of Menus


Write menus that mean something (Hot Text module, PDF, 691K, or about 15 minutes at 56K)

Don't make me use this ax on your menus.

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