[excerpts taken from this article]
All of that content just doesn’t always fit in one large menu, no matter how organized it may be. While many websites need more than two, all websites have at least two main menus: primary and secondary.
Primary navigation stands for the content that most users are interested in. But importance is relative; the type of content linked from the primary navigation on one website may be the same kind linked from the secondary navigation on another.
Secondary navigation is for content that is of secondary interest to the user. Any content that does not serve the primary goal of the website but that users might still want would go here. For many blogs, this would include links for “About us,” “Contribute,” “Advertise” and so on. For other websites, the links might be for the client area, FAQ or help page.
Below is a list of the most common content classification methods, along with suggestions for what each is best for:
- Most recent to oldest
Suitable for time-sensitive content.
Great for when the user needs to find something fast. This includes definitions, indexes and other content that users know about before they find it.
- Most popular or most used
Great for interest-based browsing, rather than content that users need.
Is certain content irrelevant to certain regions or sub-regions?
- In the order of the process
If the content in some way represents a process (for example, “How to file your taxes”), then it could be organized according to the order of actions the user has to take. FeverBee has a great example of this: “How to Build an Online Community: The Ultimate List of Resources.” While the website is a blog, the content isn’t necessarily time-sensitive, so the author has created a great navigational structure that puts much of the content into a step-by-step process.
For websites where navigation changes based on whether a user is logged in or out, other organizational challenges arise. Some websites may have a simple client area, while others have full-fledged communities. When this kind of interaction is involved, user roles and available content may vary, and owners may want to highlight some content or design it differently.
Card sorting is important to help you out.
Another thing to consider is the website’s primary language and whether the content will need to be translated into several languages….Will translated items require two lines instead of one or an overflow in the horizontal menu?
While horizontal menus are best for top-level navigation, larger websites often need more in-depth navigation. Drop-down menus can fit a lot of items in one space, thus saving valuable real estate and keeping the navigation organized. The hierarchy can be refined with sub-levels and even sub-levels of sub-levels, helping users filter the information to get to the page or section they want.
Check out the article for links to– tutorials on drop-down and mega drop-down menus