My Favorite onMessage Feature: Mega Menus

October 27, 2015 Laurie Holbrook

When I think about the best features that onMessage has to offer, my vote is for Mega Menu.

The Mega What?

A mega menu is a drop-down panel that shows the primary navigation, sub-navigation, and additional content. Its purpose is to use this high-focus area of a website to display the school’s core messaging and help funnel users to the most needed information. More and more schools are choosing to use this feature but are often confused as to what types of content to use there.

The Mega-Menu Panel Up Close

L1A mega menu can be used on the home page and/or the interior pages, but it’s only applied to top-level navigation (i.e., About, Admissions, Academics, etc.). The immediate sub-level navigation is displayed along with additional content of the school’s choosing.

Knowing that most website visitors aren’t taking the time to read body content on a webpage, the mega menu provides an opportunity to focus attention on core messaging. Kent Place School in NJ does this nicely:

L2To determine the content that should display in a mega menu, try thinking of it as a billboard for the website, and the strategy behind it as a call to action for the rest of the site. This should get the ideas flowing….

The Spence School, an all-girls school in New York, uses snippets of news and photos within the mega menu to tell its story. The takeaway from the Academics Program panel alone — a photo of girls building robots — sends a powerful message to the school’s admission audience.

L3Graphics or icons are also effective in mega menus as visual cues for the type of content that will be found when visiting a specific section. The Shipley School uses its Admissions mega menu to introduce iconography that’s featured throughout the website:

L4The mega-menu is most effective when it’s being used to direct website traffic. By teasing users with a little information, you can entice them to visit a section. For example, a short statement about the fabulous academics at your school along with an infographic on the school’s college-placement success would make a great center block for the Academics panel. Allen-Stevenson touts its programs in this way.

L5The best content for mega menu panels are calls to action. The Duke School demonstrates this well, using a friendship photo to help entice clicks on the calls to action to “Apply Now” and “Inquire Now.”

L6As with the examples above, a simple teaser such as “Learn More” or “Find Out Why…” or “Meet Our…” may induce the website visitor to dig deeper. Added bonus: the more pages users visit, and the longer they stay on the site, the better the site will perform in organic search results.

Don’t overdo it!

Not all of onMessage’s content types are suitable for mega menu panels. It’s best to keep text or other content to about six lines in height. Long pieces of content will end up covering most of the page below. Videos should also be avoided as it unnecessarily adds to the load time and can cause playback issues if the user moves off the mega menu panel.

What would you feature?

You can see why a Mega Menu is one of my favorite features. If your school is considering a mega menu on its site, what would you put in your navigation window?

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