Am working on a software product that have up to 100 view, so my main concern is simplicity and quick access navigation.

My idea is to put all the menu items in a popup window.

The user can access the menu through two different options the first one is through a sticky button on the top screen and the other option is through keyboard shortcut.

The reason why i want the menu in popup window is to give the user the ability to reorganize his favorite menu items + in this option i can categorize my menu items easily + search capability of specific view.

is it a good UX if i placed the menu in popup window instead of traditional horizontal menu on the top of the screen?

3 Answers 3


The proposed solution is not conventional, but well done for your creativity - it may work amazingly well or fail miserably, like any other novel invention.

I believe others will provide opinions against it, so allow me to focus on the for.

It could actually be an extremely usable UX pattern

Personally, I find little usability in the abode toolbars, like that of photoshop:

A screengrab of the Adobe Photoshop toolbar

It has lots of icons, and an hierarchy of tools (so a long click reveal other tools. I always thought that a more usable solution would be upon pressing some key, a mega menu will appear, neatly organising the tools into coherent hierarchy. Something like in this mega menu, just with the tool names instead of a shortcuts:

A cheatsheet for Adobe photoshop, with tools and their shortcut

In fact, a highly popular Mac application called CheatSheet does something very similar with a keyboard shortcut:

A screengrab of an application called cheatsheet, showing a big window with many shortcuts

The solution is already a convention, just in a smaller format

The context menu (right click menu) is very similar in nature to what you offer:

A screengrab of a context menu in windows

It may be right for 100 items as well

Presenting a user with 100 items is dubious and potentially overwhelming. There are a few prerequisites though in order for it to be justified:

  • Terms has to be extremely short (1 or 2 words)
  • There shall be some division into logical categories, possibly 3 level hierarchy.
  • The terms shall be absolutely clear to users so they can find the item quickly without having to think what each item actually mean.

Quite a few mega menus can easily get to 50 or more items. The following example from Ebuyer is fairly good as the terms and categories should be clear to most people (this menu has in total 60 labels):

An image of Ebuyer's mega menu

A bad mega menu is one where users are unfamiliar with the terms, like this Royal Mail menu that despite having less labels (38 in total), is far less usable than the Ebuyer one above:

An image of the Royal Mail megamenu

For instance, users won't know what "Special delivery guaranteed" mean and there is a big mix up between classes here (actions mixed with nouns and a lot of cryptic labels).


I am shocked (yes, I really mean it) to read your proposed solution. I think you really need to do some user research and analysis to design a better information architecture. That you want to place the main menu in a pop up and then give the ability to custom arrange menus, shows a big opportunity for doing some card sorting and quick usability studies. Because of limited information that you have shared, I would suggest you examine the necessity of having all those 100 menu items. Also check for redundancies/duplication. Additionally, you can also have a vertical primary navigation (not all primary navigations are horizontal). Also, it might be helpful and if required, to have a sectional secondary navigation to reduce cognitive load on the users and improve efficiency.

  • 2
    There's some good IA advice in your post, and depending on context and additional information this solution can indeed be disastrous. But I think being open minded, especially to the odd, is a good UX practice. A lot of great things can come from the wildest of ideas, and to be frank, it is hugely important to come up with oblique conceptual designs only to see why they don't work. I feel you rushed into a conclusion - it's a world of grey, nothing is purely black or white.
    – Izhaki
    Commented May 8, 2014 at 21:20

Pop up window : NO

enter image description here

Modal Window : YES

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It is always better to avoid pop up windows, people just hate pop up windows, they don't trust it!

enter image description here

Here is an example from ux stack exchange for UI editing (crt-m)

Now they used lots of menu here, I guess you can go with this kinda approach.

enter image description here

  • 1
    I wish the terminology was standard - there are popups on web that happen as an overlay (no new window). Yet if its a window - it's a window. A model window, should, in theory, still be a window.
    – Izhaki
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 9:00
  • Window : A typically rectangular, separately controllable area of the screen. Types of windows include dialog boxes, wizards, message boxes, and property sheets. See also primary window and secondary window. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/…
    – 4dgaurav
    Commented May 9, 2014 at 9:12

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