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I'm wondering if in my header the best way to display the subcategories is to click on the categories or displaying the subcategories when roll-overing on it?

Woman, Man and Kids are my categories. Subcategories example: Dress, jeans, tshirt, etc.

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What if I'm browsing via keyboard only? Or on my iPad? –  JonW Jan 21 at 14:12
    
Good thinking. Thanks –  Jybz Jan 21 at 14:47

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Please use the clickable version.
The user visit more and more the web from touchscreen devices. And as far as you can't hover elements with the most of the touchscreen devices, it will be horrible to use your navigation.

A other solution would be, if the categories are stand alone pages. Example for the Woman category.

When you click on Woman you will visit an overview page for all Woman-stuff. Then it is also okay to display the subcategories as far as you display those on the overview site.

But in general, make the parents clickable!

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I read an article yesterday called "Goodbye to 8 Design Elements Whose Time has Come" that talks about this. I recommend you read the entire article, it's not to long. If not, the part about hover state is below.

If you want it to work properly on touch devices you should go with click/tap, not doubt about it.

The Drop-Down Menu
Drop-down menus have been a cornerstone of user interfaces since the dawn of the Internet. Countless sites continue to use hover state drop-down lists as a critical piece of navigation, but as trends shift toward fully responsive, device-agnostic design, there won’t continue to be simple drop-down menus.

In its current form, the drop-down menu cannot function on platforms where the concept of a “hover state” doesn’t exist (on tablets and phones). As the “mobile first” movement continues gaining traction, click-based navigation, such as the use of a “hamburger button” to nest an entire site’s navigation in a clickable list, will become more prevalent.

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Thanks for this interesting article! –  Jybz Jan 21 at 14:48

I think its a better user experience to just display the top level/parent categories and then show sub navigation on those pages. It removes the clutter from the main navigation thus not presenting the visitor with 500 different sub level and sub sub level navigation.

Of course, it depends on the store and the range of products.

But another benefit is this also keeps authority in the most important/top level pages of your website rather than leaking this to so many other deeper category pages.

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