I have a mega-menu with links to different pages, a search field and a dropdown menu related to the search. However, the search is not for the items in the mega-menu, but for the items throughout all these pages. If I want to search on a specific page, I can choose the needed page in the dropdown menu.

My question: Isn't it look strange that the search 1. in mega-menu which when open lays on the top of the main content 2. is not intended to the items in the mega-menu, but to the whole content?


UPDATE: The results will be displayed in the main content area, not in the mega menu. And what about the dropdown menu? Is it good to have a dropdown menu in a dropdown megamenu? Double-dropdown?


Yes, it looks strange

It's strange because it's non-standard. You could move the Search box from your mega-menu to the standard location.

Here's a list of interesting articles from the Nielsen Norman Group. It can help you decide where to put the Search box, and how to format it, for best user performance. In particular, here's a quote from this article (emphasis added):

When search is placed in an unexpected location, users need extra help to find it. Users first look to the upper-right corner for search. If they don’t find it there, they start scanning the top of the page. Among sites that had the search icon on the left, those that used a large, empty open-text field fared best with our users. Although the users eventually found the search box, they shouldn’t have had to scour the page for it in the first place.

So: use the word Search as a label, perhaps use the magnifying-glass icon too, and place the control in the upper right corner of the page:

A typical Search box, with a label and a magnifying-glass icon

In the comments, below, you mention that this new Search box on the mega-menu is not for site-wide search, but for searching a limited scope. Aie! This can work if your site IA and design and your users can handle it. Read about scoped search.

And then there's the update in your question, above: a drop-down on a drop-down is non-standard, definitely strange. Look for better ways to implement this. If nothing else, use formatting to visually separate the mega-menu from the Search, and perhaps place it "above" the mega-menu, visually. These suggestions come with a clothes-pin for your nose (and mine), because my suggestions stink!

A clothespin for our noses

Be creative in solving this design problem

You mentioned in the comments, below, that you're not allowed to edit existing library elements. I've never let the rules stop me from trying to persuade others to reconsider. A few ideas:

  • Challenge the design constraint. Use published research. Do an inventory of competing sites and other sites in general that are known to perform well.
  • You mentioned in the comments that the mega-menu is a new element. I'd say you need another new element: the Search box, and element that you can place in or very close to the upper-right corner.
  • If your site gets lots of traffic, introduce A|B testing. Once people have agreed to that, use this method to test different the Search box in the upper-right corner.
  • I'm sure there are other possible solutions. There are always at least five!

Signalling what will be searched

Once you move Search off the mega-menu and into a standard position, that will reduce the expectation that Search will search the mega-menu. After all, people expect search results to list links to content, not links to links to content. :)

Just to be clear: this isn't a problem you should fix. It's a symptom or side-effect of a different, more serious problem. Solve the correct problem.

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    Thank you for the link! The problem is I cannot put the search in any other place, because all the elements on the page are coming from the library of the elements and cannot be edited. The mega-menu is a new element, so I can do with it whatever I want :-) – katya Aug 12 '15 at 6:02
  • @katya, I see several possible courses of action. 1. You have a design constraint that you need to challenge. Bring published research, and start a campaign of persuasion to be allowed to edit the other library element. 2. If you can introduce one new element, then you can introduce two. How about a new "site-search" element that's located close to the upper-right corner? 3. If your site gets lots and lots of traffic, then introduce A|B testing, and prove that Search can perform better. Good luck! You're bound to make a change for the better. – JeromeR Aug 12 '15 at 6:22
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    There is a global search in the upper-right corner. But it gives the results from all related projects and pages. I'm working on a project that is a part of this global product. So I want to have a search that is intended for my product only. – katya Aug 12 '15 at 6:29
  • @katya, LOL! You need to read the links I posted. The one on Scoped Search tells you that your solution is not a good idea except in specific cases. nngroup.com/articles/scoped-search – JeromeR Aug 12 '15 at 6:31
  • Thank you, Jerome. Actually, I'm agree with you. I wanted to hear what people think about it. I really appreciate your answer and the time you've spent :-) – katya Aug 12 '15 at 10:23

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