Why on Earth is there an option to disable rollover menus?
November 22, 2011 1:45 PM   Subscribe

The school I'm currently attending offers users of their website the option to 'Disable Rollover Menus' on some pages but not all. Why?

In the instances where it's an option, disabling the rollover menus turns off the menus that appear on the persistent navigation when you hover your mouse pointer over a category. As a result, there's not a direct way to access the menu items.

The college, as is the trend these days, is hurting for money so I assume their site was developed piecemeal whenever a given department had room in the budget, so the inconsistency doesn't surprise me. They also, to their great credit, make noise about accessibility on their website and online courseware. And their courseware also has links for access on mobile devices, so maybe it's related to that?

What's the rationale for someone in the chain make the decision to offer disabling rollovers as an option? I'm missing something.
posted by stet to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
Schools have incredibly fragmented departments and various levels of web experience even in the same department. Even if there is a single group responsible for the school's look and feel, departmental politics will guarantee that some groups will pick and choose what they like, or ignore it all together because it conflicts with their own personal vision.

Departmental infighting aside, it could also be that the various levels of expertise may mean that not everybody knows how to add/adapt these menus, and so they avoid them altogether because they do not have the time or resources to devote to them.

Alternatively, it could be simple oversight even in the same group--the template for one page may not carry over to another. Different pages developed at different times in the revision cycle might have different look-and-feel, or forget to add feature developed later to earlier templates.

Finally, they may have analytics or qualitative data that indicate that people do not want to see massive pulldown menus on secondary pages, hence the option to remove them.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:57 PM on November 22, 2011

Best answer: I plugged the phrase into the top of your school's website:

Why do we have the drop-down menus?
Research on college websites indicated that many colleges are moving toward a user-directed website design, offering content based on what type of user you are: Current Student, Prospective Student, Faculty & Staff, etc.

The determination to use drop-down menus for this option came from usability testing on a prototype during the design phase. Less experienced web users disliked the drop-down (rollover) menus, while more experienced users really liked them. Therefore, we decided to offer them with an option on all pages to disable the menus.

Offering the rollover (drop-down) menus on all pages gives easy access to primary features of the website from the home page or any page of the website.
posted by at at 1:58 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

FWIW the "disable" option only appears on .aspx page, while .htm pages don't have this. There looks to be two different mastheads going on.

It's possible that the .aspx pages are more legacy, perhaps? Those pages all have darker red/tan colors, compared with the rest of the site.
posted by avoision at 2:09 PM on November 22, 2011

There may also be adaptive/accessibility issues for the blind--they may be transitioning (slowly, because as above, universities can be very fragmented) to something that plays better with accessibility software.
posted by elizeh at 4:08 PM on November 22, 2011

A case of Neville Chamberlin's umbrella.
posted by humboldt32 at 4:33 PM on November 22, 2011

Best answer: I used to be a community college webmaster in WA state. (2000-2006)

I would bet that the existence of a "disable menus" link is related to some sort of weird internal politics, something about easing staff/faculty into the existence of the menus when they were first added.

It looks like there's a difference between older pages (calendar, contact forms, site map) and those that are probably in some sort of content management system (CMS).

Looking at the source code, the pages without the "disable" option are calling to a "newtemp" folder, ie: new template; they also have comments referring to "Microsoft.ContentManagement.WebControls.Console"

Now that everybody's used to it, they don't have to offer a "disable" link anymore, and when the site went into a CMS, they didn't include it in the template.

I'm surprised/impressed by the degree of visual uniformity otherwise, BTW*; I'm going to guess that the "holdouts" are all managed by a particular department or individual, and probably hard to rework. (Either for technical or interpersonal reasons.)

(resisting much longer rant)

I hope that helps!

* Aha, they hide the crazy individualized stuff inside of the campus directory. Picking on someone at random....
posted by epersonae at 5:42 PM on November 22, 2011

Response by poster: Picking on someone at random....

Oh dear, that page is quite dated.

I expect weird random stuff on web pages for large organizations. What confused me in this particular instance was that I couldn't figure a reason for this particular bit of weirdness. It sounds like there's no grand purpose for the decision other than a kind of strange response to the user research at quotes.

Thanks all for your help.
posted by stet at 6:05 PM on November 22, 2011

« Older Closest ski resort to NYC that is open this...   |   What do you call yourselves when you're not... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.