UI design pattern tips: overflow menus

Once someone starts using your website or web application, they need to know where to go and how to get there at any point. If they can't navigate through your your application easily, you'll quickly lose them. Thus, designing effective navigation in your web application is crucial.

In this series for Creative Bloq, Chris Bank of UXPin, the UX design app, discusses the importance of navigation design patterns and details examples from some of the hottest websites and web apps today.

You can see previous posts in this series here. Meanwhile, for more examples of web design patterns, download UXPin's free e-book, Web UI Design Patterns 2014.

The problem

The users want quick access to additional options or actions they can perform.

The solution

Hide extra options and buttons in an expandable menu so that they don’t clutter the main interface.

Overflow menu on Spotify

Overflow menu on Spotify

Both Facebook and Google use 'overflow menus' to maintain very clean user interfaces on their web apps by hiding the most important secondary options in an expandable menu. This can also be used to show the most important actions in terms of engagement.

Overflow menu on Pinterest

Overflow menu on Pinterest

For example Pinterest, keeps a share on Facebook button visible to help speed up a common and desirable user action on each pin.

Overflow menu on Google

Overflow menu on Google

Alternatively, an overflow menu can be used to contain additional menu items or actions as they are incrementally added to the UI.

Words: Chris Bank

Chris Bank is the growth lead at UXPin, a UX design app that creates responsive interactive wireframes and prototypes.

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