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I'm specifically referring to here and I have not seen this type of navigation before (have you?)

My question(s) is(are) this: what are the reasons why have hidden some of their sub-levels of Navigation behind "view alls" upon rollover of primary category eg. garden? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this UI? (ie. in this example, there are actually 6 sub-categories under "Sheds and Storage" but they've decided to only show 3. Why? Is there any research to support the advantages of this?

I can take a good guess as to why this is the case (reduce level of cognition, reduce choice, promote certain sub-categories). A clear disadvantage being summarised by Jared Spool.

Users can't predict the future, so they don't know they need to reveal the menu to get what they need. - Jared Spool

Here is a screenshot: enter image description here

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I would assume it is because it barely fits on screen as it is. If they were to show all categories in the nav then then the whole menu itself would be too big to fit on the screen. Jared's quote is less relevant here - It's not like it's one single 'menu' button; it's a 'View All' link underneath the Sheds & Storage category. I guess it could be slightly improved by renaming it 'View all Sheds & Storage' but the position of each 'View All' link already implies it's associated to the category headings. How would you design this menu to be better? They can't include everything in the menu. –  JonW Feb 12 '14 at 9:44
Agreed, but don't you think there are other options and they've gone for this option for a reason. What is that reason? For example, they could have approached a link catch all approach? Or a more linear link approach? Or even just link the user through to the category and show the user the subs there? Do you not think this approach seems to be taken from a design POV (i.e. all sub-category containers on the mega menu are 4 line height)? What do you think? –  DLM Feb 12 '14 at 10:32
We're just going to be making assumptions as to the reason for this. Unless someone from the B&Q web development team who was actually involved in the build is a member of this site and can answer exactly. –  JonW Feb 12 '14 at 10:49
Indeed, that's the whole premise of the question. We're assuming X / Y / Z. My question is (or should be maybe I need to rephrase it) based around is there any research to suggest that this method of navigation is / was the best choice /most converting for the end user? –  DLM Feb 12 '14 at 10:51
Amazon and other big sites have a similiar menu if I'm not mistaken. There is just limited screen space is what I think too. –  user39400 Feb 13 '14 at 13:28

1 Answer 1

I would say that the logic behind this design is sound from an Information architecture point of view so you are right in pointing out that:

I can take a good guess as to why this is the case (reduce level of cognition, reduce choice, promote certain sub-categories).

I would add that the design follows a number of Information architecture principals :

The Principle of Choices as outlined below :

The Paradox of Choice is a book by Barry Schwartz [1] that came out in 2005. In brief, the book’s message is that a greater number of options can make it more difficult for people to make a decision. More options means more cognitive effort, and more effort can sometimes mean more anxiety. People think they like having a lot of options, but they really do not.

So your guess is spot-on, presenting the user with too many choices overwhelms the user and causes cognitive overload.

The Principle of Exemplars as outlined below :

Describe the contents of categories by showing examples of the contents.

You are also right on this one, by showing number of sub-categories the designer is showcasing examples of the products to improve user understanding of what this category includes.

Last but not least: The Principle of Progressive Disclosure as outlined below :

Show only enough information to help people understand what kinds of information they’ll find as they dig deeper.

By showing a limited number of products under each category the designer is setting users expectations of what they will find if they dig deeper while also providing a link to most visited sub-category pages.

With regard to "view all" link i think its part of the progressive disclosure approach as users are guided to take action once they have understood what each category includes.

I would end with this quote which sums up things quite well :

Information presented to a person who is not interested or ready to process it is effectively noise.

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