Jakob Nielsen says mega drop-down navigation menus work well.
Given that regular drop-down menus are rife with usability problems, it takes a lot for me to recommend a new form of drop-down. But, as our testing videos show, mega drop-downs overcome the downsides of regular drop-downs. Thus, I can recommend one while warning against the other.
We’ll +1 that. A good, related example from our world: The project switcher in Basecamp.
Design Decisions: Basecamp Project Switcher [SvN] explains how we redesigned the project switcher from a normal drop-down to a mega drop-down.
Ryan adds this:
The original design was a single pulldown (a <select> tag). It was cramped and you had to scroll inside of it to find the project you wanted. Now the five most recently accessed projects have big easy-to-click targets, and you don’t have to scroll to see them. They’re all laid out in big type. The result is that you can navigate between the most recent projects without squinting and leaning close to your monitor. It’s really comfortable. Then since we had the free space inside the project switcher, we could also offer a big selection of more recent projects in a pulldown with a bigger font size. So in the cases where you need to dig beyond the last 5 projects, you can still do that. But most of the time it’s super fast to pop open the switcher and just click on one of those big targets without fussing around in a pulldown.
Another nice example of what Nielsen is talking about can be found at the Rails Guides site.
Check the “Guides Index” link: