How many menu items should I have?

Posted at February 8, 2011

When planning the navigation for your Website, you really want to think through how your visitors will be looking at your content.  It sometimes helps to literally envision a “profile” of a person who fits your typical demographic:

  • Who is he/she?
  • What is his/her age?
  • What is his/her proficiency with using the Web?
  • Will this person be visiting primarily from work, from home, or from a mobile device?
  • How impatient is this person?
  • What is he/she looking for on my Website most often?

(I know the answer to that last one.  VERY.  We are all impatient on the Web.)

As you’re planning your navigation menus, our golden number is six.  Having six main items in your menu seems to be about right.  Each of these can have drop-downs, of course.  And if one of your items is “HOME” or “CONTACT US”, well, that doesn’t really count. 

Our rule-of-six isn’t fixed, and it isn’t universal.  Your mileage may vary.  In fact, we love the fact that SiteOrganic lets you not only have as many main menu items as you want, but you can even create nested second- and third-level menus.  As many as you want.

Can you imagine a Website that didn’t let you manage your menus the way you want?  Actually I can.  I ran across this recently on a competitor’s demo:

Yikes! In this day and age, I’d like to think that menu items are pretty easy to come by.

What about your site? Have you found a certain number, or nomenclature, that really seems to work well with your users?  Churches are always experimenting with navigation and content taxonomy so please feel free to share your success stories in the comments.

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