What is the term for the menu that appears at the top right of many webpages? Here are two examples: enter image description here enter image description here


5 Answers 5


According to a Six Revisions article on navigation:

Garrett calls additional navigation items courtesy navigation, Krug calls them utilities. Other people call them secondary navigation items but that term tends to fall apart conceptually on larger sites, so I would advise against that.

The Krug referred to is Steve Krug who calls those menus "utilities" in his book Don't Make me Think.

  • 3
    A very scientific test using googlefight shows Utility scoring 135,000 compared to Courtesy navigation of just 3,060.
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 2, 2013 at 19:41
  • Google fight escapes the quotes and the numbers don't seem quite right. If you search on Google yourself with the quotes, you'll find 400k in favor of utility navigation, but with 170K, courtesy navigation is common as well.
    – Sylverdrag
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 4:25
  • @Sylverdrag: if you fight the terms without the quotes, Utility still wins by a mile: 12.2 million versus only 2.7 million.... Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 6:56
  • @Marjan Without the quotes, "navigation" is a constant in both, so what you really are comparing are the words "courtesy" and "utility". Of course, utility is far more commonly used, but with other definitions, as in "utility bill" which makes it utterly pointless as a comparison.
    – Sylverdrag
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 11:49
  • @Sylverdrag: Huh, d'oh.... :-) Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 13:32

Generally that navigation is used to show/set detail about login user or some meta information, so i call it meta navigation. likely for middle part navigation as content navigation and footer part navigation as footer navigation.


I've heard/used toolbar to refer to this area. It tends to be populated with account tools so it works on that level. I also like this term for a couple of reasons:

  • It brings to mind desktop and web apps with tools anchored to the top of the window.
  • There's something generic about it in the context of the web that "navigation" doesn't have. Since clients are jamming ads in there at an increasing rate, it's not such a disconnect for me ;)

It is always referred as "Utility Navigation/Toolbar" holding login/logout, help, search. I have seen some website using this pattern as a primary navigation also.

  • 2
    It is always referred as "Utility Navigation/Toolbar" really? Where do you get this statement from?
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 3, 2013 at 7:30

In the book Smashing UX Design the authors give it the label Site tool menu which I think is wise since it mostly contains links that control the site itself such as login, text size settings, search, sitemap etc. Stuff that you need independent on where you are on the site or what you are doing.

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