< Design Pattern Library
Sub-items in dynamic menus

Dynamic menus can be a handy shortcut, but what if you want to present sub-items in the menu?

The traditional method in desktop software menus is a horizontal fly-out, as shown below:

Visio menu

Many web sites use a similar approach, as in this example from Lands End:

Lands end menus

Where there are relatively few top-level options, some sites organize sub-items in vertical columns, as in this example from REI.com:

REI menu

One approach I’ve seen only on one site (Mygazines)  is a dynamic menu that extends vertically:

Vertical menu

Vertical menu

A downside with this implementation is that 1) it requires a click to open/close a submenu and 2) It can result in “pushing down” the top-level options so they are more difficult to scan.