I just wanted to make a very quick post to discuss one of my greatest pet peeves in Web design. I don’t know why it is so prevalent, but it is extremely annoying.
I’m not sure how many of you do your shopping online, but I always at least check a few stores online before attempting to make a major purchase. Something I’ve found on just about every major retailer’s Web site is that they all have drop down menus.
The problem comes, though, when the designer decides to place the search box directly in the path of the drop down menus, so that, when you trigger the “drop down” effect of the menu, it covers up the search box.
I did a quick survey of a handful of retailers while I was searching this past weekend for the new Zune (I found that Circuit City is allowing you to pre-order them already).
I found the following:
Office Depot and Office Max offer Web sites where the search box occurs above the drop down menus, so the menus do not interfere in any way with the search box.
Circuit City has drop down menus that cover up the search box when triggered. It’s not as annoying as some other Web sites, as the drop downs at Circuit City take about half a second to engage and they disengage instantaneously when you mouse out. Therefore, if you accidentally mouse over the menus, you can get out of the situation before obscuring the search box. In addition, and this may be purely accidental, but the position of the menu bars makes it fairly intuitive to still be able to place your cursor in the search box and start typing.
BestBuy has drop downs that cover up their search box, too. Theirs is slightly more annoying than CircuitCity’s, simply because they engage immediately upon mouseover. They do, however, disappear pretty quickly, too. The only real problem I have with BestBuy’s Web site versus CircuitCity’s is that it’s a little less intuitive to place your cursor in the search box while the menu is engaged.
There have been times on that Web site that I have even moved my mouse outside of the browser window altogether and started typing in the search box without being able to get rid of the drop down menu. In a lot of cases, it seems that you need to mouse over another menu bar, then mouse out and pray that the drop down will disappear this time.