The Local Menu

The local menu provides handy links to your user. It is located on the left on desktop and collapsed into the Menu (hamburger) icon on mobile. A page may be placed into a local menu so that it automatically shows relevant links.

Why use the local menu?

In most cases it's a good idea to put a page into a local menu. This automatically provides links to/from this page in the most relevant context.

Why not use the local menu?

  • It is already too populated with links. Beyond about seven links, each subsequent link makes the list that much harder to scan.
  • It doesn't contain only highly relevant links to your page.
  • You plan on making links yourself to/from your page.
  • You want the full width of the page to work with. This can potentially look better, as it allocates more space for visuals.

It takes work to refine a web page to be highly relevant and focused. This is what gives a good user experience. Only use the local menu if it helps user experience by providing some links that are highly relevant.

What's the ideal amount of links?

The local menu follows the same principles of any list. If only 1-2 items, then why have a list? If > 15, the list is too big and unscannable. On any given page, the total amount of local menu links should be around 7.

My local menu has too many links. How can I fix this?

You can start the menu at a closer node and/or better define your menu.

Start the Menu at a Closer Node

It's usually easier to start at a closer node. For example, let's say we have this menu:

  • Extension
    • Food
    • Family
    • Textiles
      • Care
        • Stain Removal
          • (Lots of links)

A user on Stain Removal probably doesn't care about Food. So that link and other links on that same level aren't highly relevant. We can define the menu to start at any node closer to Stain Removal, including Stain Removal itself. So the local menu becomes:

  • Stain Removal
    • (Lots of links)

Voila! Easy fix. Now the local menu serves its purpose again. Contact Jimmy Hansen if you want page(s) to start at a closer node.


How will the user know where they are unless I start from the root of the local menu?

That's what breadcrumbs do. Every page has complete breadcrumbs, even if the local menu is started from a closer node.

Define Your Menu

You define it the same as you do any list. You'll want from 1-8 items in each list, each having around the same title length.

Bad Example

  • My Department
    • Projects
      • (14 projects)

Even if you started on a closer node, it wouldn't matter, because you'll have at least 14 links.

Good Example

  • My Department
    • Projects
      • UGA
        • (7 projects)
      • External
        • (7 projects)

This may be perfectly fine starting at the root node, or if not, from a closer node. If you have too many items on the same node, think of ways that make sense to your reader that you can better distribute them.

What if I don't want to use the local menu?

Many pages are explicitly linked to and not in the local menu. Examples:

  1. Programs
    • In this case we have links to all sorts of different programs, many in different local menus (their departments). So we define the links manually.
  2. Double Dawgs
    • Same logic as above.

So you can bypass the local menu as long as you consider the links to and from this page.

What about News, Events and People?

The local menu only makes sense for department-like pages, where you have a hierarchy and one place for each page. Certain pages are better organized without a hierarchy, like those above. They are organized by categories, where you can check multiple categories, and your page will automatically be published to multiple places based on the categories.

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