Recently Marty Gruhn and I put IBM.com’s new mega-menu under the microscope and the results were…well…less than stellar. But a couple accidental slips of my cursor exposed some other new designs and approaches that are well worth taking a spin around the IBM.com site. With some best practices and innovations in store.
Navigation first, content second. If you click on one of the artfully hidden “all” links in IBM.com’s mega-menu (i.e. “all solutions” or “all services”) you will land on a page that is so simply designed and elegant that you will think you landed on a different site. You didn’t. This is the highest of the high levels of the new IBM.com. Sophisticated design aside, what is most notable is how the page is focused solely on navigating to the rest of the site. Broad, big-bucket links take visitors to more specific information, while the content only sets the context.
Introducing the mini-menu. With the popularity of micro-site Website architectures on the rise, moving around the dot com sites is becoming a problem. Some micro-site teams don’t want the big bulky navigation panel across the top of their pages*, while others want to design something that fits their own artistic vision. Enter the mini-menu. This design zips up the highest level of the global navigation panel into a tidy drop-down menu. In IBM.com’s case, it is activated by moving the cursor over the logo—another stroke of genius.
In fact, I highly recommend taking the top 2 to 3 levels of this site for a serious ride. If you bounce around long enough, you can begin to catch glimpses of the new IBM.com emerging. And if they actually pull off what it looks like they are shooting for, the new IBM.com will be a work of art—and a site to follow.
*See SAP.com’s new site (and read our post about the latest launch), some areas of Cisco.com, and the granddaddy of mega-micro-sites, Microsoft.com.