Ever wished that your menus were just a little bit more…mega? You’re in luck! Mega menus are feature-rich drop down menus that appear when a user hovers or clicks on a menu item.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, look no further than WP Superstars. Give one of the menu items a click and…bam! A gorgeous drop down appears with more information:
As you can see in the example above, mega menus typically exhibit a few specific characteristics:
- They’re fairly large. That’s what makes them so mega, right?
- They display tons of information at one time – no scrolling needed.
- They’re only revealed on hover or click, rather than being a static part of a site’s navigation.
But unless your theme comes with mega menu functionality built-in, you’ll need to turn to a plugin to get mega menus for your WordPress site.
In this post, I’m going to discuss and recommend some of the best mega menu WordPress plugins. But first, I think it’s important to discuss whether or not it’s actually a good idea for you to get one of these mega menu plugins and use it on your site…
Are mega menus good for usability?
Thankfully, user experience gurus Nielsen Norman Group recently dug into the issue of whether or not mega menus actually improve site navigation.
Their findings? As long as you take some precautions, mega menus generally improve the usability of your site by making it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.
So what are those precautions?
- Display timing – Because mega menus take up a decent chunk of screen real estate, it’s important that you add at least a 0.5-second delay if you’re showing your mega menu on hover.
- Item grouping – Use “concise, yet descriptive labels” and make sure to chunk menu items into related sets. Additionally, only show each choice once.
That to say, as long as you follow some basic best practices when using these mega menu plugins, they’ll make your site more user-friendly.
Best mega menu WordPress plugins for 2017
Unfortunately, there aren’t very many quality free mega menu plugins. So most of the entries on this “best of” list will skew premium. But with that being said, we did wrangle up at least one free option that you can play around with if your budget is tight.
As always, at the end of this post, I’ll try to recommend the best mega menu plugin for your specific situation.
Let’s dig in. Starting with….
1. WP Mega Menu from MyThemeShop
WP Mega Menu is a premium option from MyThemeShop that works across all themes and comes with three built-in styles.
You can use the built-in styles to display both regular menu items, as well as your latest posts (and associated meta information).
There’s no configuration needed and it integrates into the native WordPress menu system. All you need to do is choose your desired mega menu style and you’re off to the races.
You’ll then have full control over what meta information is displayed, the colors used on your mega menu, as well as animations when the mega menu appears or disappears.
On the front-end, your mega menus load with AJAX to ensure they don’t slow down your site.
And if you’re a developer, you’ll love the ability to customize everything with built-in filters.
All in all, WP Mega Menu is a quick and easy way to add some stylish mega menus to your WordPress site.
Get WP Mega Menu
2. Max Mega Menu
Max Mega Menu is the only free option on this list, which might explain why it’s so popular with over 100,000 active installs according to the WordPress.org plugin directory.
Max Mega Menu is a lightweight solution that works by automatically converting your existing menus into mega menus which you can then style and add widgets to using built-in settings options.
If you need multiple mega menus, Max Mega Menu supports multiple menu locations with different settings for each location.
To create your menus, Max Mega Menu includes an easy-to-use drag and drop builder, as well as a user friendly interface to add positioning, transitions, and styling.
Remember – you can use widgets in your mega menus with the plugin, which opens up the doors to add all kinds of elements like:
- Contact forms
- …anything that’s a widget!
As for when your mega menus display, you can choose between hover, hover intent, or click (remember – choosing to display your menu instantly on hover isn’t a great idea). And you can also configure some responsive settings by hiding certain menu options on mobile.
Up until now, all of that is available in the free version of the plugin. If you go with the pro version, you’ll get access to a bunch of new features, notably:
- Sticky menus
- Accordion and vertical menus
- Custom item styling for individual menu items
- Search boxes in your mega menus
- WooCommerce and Easy Digital Downloads support to showcase your products
- A few other goodies…
If you want a free mega menu plugin, this is absolutely the best option for you. And the pro version adds enough functionality to make it worth busting out your checkbook.
Price: Free. Pro version starts from $23 for a single site license
Get Max Mega Menu Get Max Mega Menu Pro
3. Slick Menu
Slick Menu is a full-service WordPress menu plugin that offers up a number of features to enhance all aspects of your WordPress menus.
The plugin works by giving you a live customizer interface to build and style your menus. Because it’s using the standard WordPress Customizer interface that you’re probably already used to, you’ll see every tweak in real-time.
For every menu that you create, you can build out unlimited menu levels, each with their own independent styling.
And one neat unique feature is the ability to add YouTube videos as backgrounds to your menu items. You know those cool video header backgrounds? You can add that to menu items! Just make sure not to abuse this feature lest you annoy your readers.
You can add even more styling to your menus with 14 different menu appearance animations as well as 45 different menu item animations (again, less is more here – don’t use all 45 at once!).
You can also add content filters to your site whenever a menu item is open. So if you want to, say, add some grayscale to the rest of your site to really focus on your menu, you can do that straight from the plugin’s interface.
If you want to go beyond simple practicality and add some memorable styling to your mega menus, this is a good option for you.
Price: $25 with standard Envato licensing
Get Slick Menu
Superfly is a flexible WordPress menu plugin that can either be used to enhance your existing menus or to create standalone menus in a variety of styles.
With Superfly, you can create the following types of menus:
- Icon toolbars
- Full Screen menus
It’s worth noting that most of these menus are vertical menus, rather than the more traditional horizontal menus used by most themes. That is, the menus run from top-to-bottom, instead of side-to-side.
While it does offer up all of those advanced menu styles, you don’t have to use them. If you want a more traditional style, you can just create a basic vertical menu and add mega menu functionality to subcategories like the screenshot above.
Superfly also gives you a ton of control over your menu’s responsive design. You can easily enable or disable certain functionality depending on a visitor’s device.
To create the most mega menus possible, Superfly allows you to incorporate widgets, shortcodes, and custom HTML into your menu items. And it also allows you to create menus that go up to 4 levels deep.
And like the other plugins, you have a variety of options for styling and animations.
While Superfly won’t work if you want to keep your existing horizontal menu, it’s a great option for those who want to embrace the vertical menu style.
Price: $22 with standard Envato licensing
5. WordPress Mega Menu
The aptly named WordPress Mega Menu brings us back to a more traditional mega menu plugin. Unlike Slick Menu and Superfly, it’s 100% focused on specifically creating mega menus.
It lets you create fully responsive, touchable mega menus that look great on all devices.
You can even visually build your mega menus using Visual Composer (if available). While that’s nice if you do use Visual Composer, it throws a bit of a kink in things if you’re using a different page builder (or don’t use a page builder).
One neat feature is that it supports a WooCommerce mini cart out of the box. So if you’re running an eCommerce store, that’s a nifty bonus.
While WordPress Mega Menu does still work without Visual Composer, I think the best reason to choose this plugin is if you already have Visual Composer installed because you get significantly more control over your mega menus.
Price: $22 with standard Envato licensing
Get WordPress Mega Menu
6. Hero Menu
Hero Menu is a premium plugin that helps you create everything from the titular hero menus down to more conventional mega menus and simple drop downs.
It includes a simple backend interface that lets you build menus with a drag and drop editor. If you can build normal WordPress menus, you’ll have no problem figuring out Hero Menu’s menu builder.
You can easily customize colors and add backgrounds. And when it comes time to pick what shows up on your mega menu, you can choose from a variety of content types like:
- Post lists
- Regular lists
- Contact forms
And Hero Menu also bakes in 270+ icons for you to choose from.
If you’re running an eCommerce store, you’ll also love that Hero Menu completely integrates with WooCommerce to allow you to display your product items in your mega menus.
Overall, with over 3,000 sales and a 4.54-star rating, Hero Menu is one of the most popular mega menu options at Code Canyon.
Price: $19 with standard Envato licensing
Get Hero Menu
While Hero Menu is one of the most popular mega menu plugins at Code Canyon, UberMenu is by far the most popular option with over 65,000 sales and 4.67-star rating.
So why do people love UberMenu so much? Perhaps because it sets you up with an easy to use grid system that you can base all of your mega menus on. Create your own layout of columns and rows and then fill it up with pretty much any content you want.
UberMenu lets you include custom HTML. shortcodes, widgets, and lots more.
Once you get your menu content built, you can adjust over 50 different style settings using the native WordPress customizer interface for real-time previews.
And UberMenu also includes dynamic item generation to build sub-menus based on categories, posts, custom post types, and more. You can even add tabs inside your mega menus if you have a ton of information to display.
Every mega menu you create is, of course, responsive and touch enabled.
And you can choose from a variety of dropdown CSS3 transitions, as well as three different menu triggers:
- Hover intent
If you want a feature-rich mega menu plugin that’s popular and well-supported, UberMenu is a great option for your site.
Price: $19 with standard Envato licensing
8. WP Mega Menu Pro
Not to be confused with MyThemeShop’s plugin, WP Mega Menu Pro is a similarly named plugin that lets you build out both horizontal and vertical mega menus.
WP Mega Menu Pro ships with 14+ different pre-designed templates to help get you started. Or, you can always build your own mega menu with the plugin’s visual drag and drop menu builder.
In addition to the drag and drop builder, WP Mega Menu Pro ships with over 100 different customization options.
And like many of the other plugins, those options include the ability to set different triggers and transition effects.
In addition to allowing you to use any of your existing widgets, WP Mega Menu Pro also includes specific functionality for:
- Register / login forms
- WooCommerce carts
- Search boxes
If the idea of being able to add both horizontal and vertical mega menus intrigues you, give WP Mega Menu Pro a look.
Price: $19 with standard Envato licensing
Get WP Mega Menu Pro
9. Mega Main Menu
Mega Main Menu is the last WordPress mega menu plugin I’ll be looking at in this post.
Mega Main Menu lets you build out all types of mega menus from a variety of content sources. With it, you can bring in:
Then, you can style that content with a variety of colors, icons, and fonts.
Compared to some of the fancier plugins on this list, the designs are a little basic. But basic doesn’t mean poorly functioning. I actually prefer the laid back look of Mega Main Menu’s designs because they’re clean and easy to navigate.
At just $14, Mega Main Menu is also the cheapest premium plugin on this list. Give it a look for a lightweight, minimalist way to add mega menus to your site.
The plugin also includes a variety of premium extensions to add features like:
- Interactive elements
- Parallax and video sections
- Post grids
- Interactive maps and charts
- Sliders and toggles
If you do need some of the premium extensions, the plugin might actually come out as more expensive. So make sure you keep that in mind when making your decision. Other plugins include such functionality in their listed price without needing to purchase add-ons.
Price: $14 for core plugin. $12 for each extension. Standard Envato licensing.
Get Mega Main Menu
Which mega menu plugin should you pick?
Ok, so that’s a big ‘ole list of 9 different mega menu plugins. But which of these mega menu plugins should you actually choose for your site? Let’s run through a couple of scenarios…
If you just want the quickest and easiest way to set up normal style mega menus for your WordPress site, then your best option is MyThemeShop’s WP Mega Menu because of how simple it is to use.
If you want a free mega menu plugin, then you really don’t have much choice – Max Mega Menu is the only solid option out there.
If you want to get creative with vertical menus and all kinds of stylistic effects, look at either Slick Menu or Superfly.
If you want something highly customizable, then give a look at UberMenu. It might take you a little longer than WP Mega Menu to get set up, but it also offers more flexibility for those willing to put in the setup time.
And finally, if you’re already using Visual Composer, you might like WordPress Mega Menu because of how it’s designed to integrate with Visual Composer for easy mega menu building.
While the other mega menu options on this list all still have something to offer, the above are the best of the best in my opinion. Now get out there and start making your menus worthy of the mega distinction!
The post 9 Best WordPress Mega Menu Plugins For Better Site Navigation appeared first on WP Superstars.