Types of website nav menus: Farm-to-table web design
What does it look like when we take a farm-to-table approach to menu and information architecture design?
Last week I admitted to a change in approach for my work: I’m far more skeptical of Megamenus than I used to be, mostly because text! Text. So much text. Megamenus are like going to your local diner and having to choose among a burger and fries, pancakes, spaghetti and a lobster… but as an information architecture.
Not that I want entirely skeuomorphic menus either. Light iconography can be successful, but there are still big steps to take — it’s really funny that this icon equals “call now” in 2019. When was the last time you used a handset outside of your office?
Constructing new iconography is also a long shot. It reminds me of the progressive school from Arrested Development that doesn’t believe in letter grades.
But what does it look like when we take a farm-to-table approach to menu and information architecture design?
Watch out for over-description and over-engineering. If we start talking about the things that we’re passionate about (like our products and services and content), it turns out we can go on for days.
Exhibit A: Farm-to-table menu based on how stakeholders (chefs, owners) talk
Hot roast beef sandwich
But no one wants us to go on for days. Especially not executives. So in the past decade, we’ve seen the following example much more often.
Exhibit B: The farm-to-table menu you see.
Break it down. What’s the least amount of description you need to provide for the menu to succeed at its job?
Exhibit C: Fancy schmancy minimalist.
Source data. Have I written before about the value of search and user data in informing a content strategy? OH YES I HAVE. Spending time with all the data you have available is a best practice! If you don’t have data available, I recommend finding some — it is readily available from the Google, from Moz, from pretty much any freemium intelligence software.
Look at data about what your users want before you dive into any personal suppositions about what users need, is a best practice. It’s better than, say, just talking about why your product is better and why your brand is the best.
Exhibit D: Purely search data-driven.
Of course, this approach only takes into account how your customers are getting to your website/restaurant and not what they want to do when they get there… aka, eat.
Exhibit E: Problem solving.
So what approach should you take for your website or app menu? You can go traditional and look at all of the other menus in your industry and just do the same thing. But if you’re looking for some next-level content navigation, I’d recommend the following:
Creating a menu requires some magical thinking and trust that your users will make the right decisions. But as a user, I want to know if the seasonal veggies are beets again, thanks.