How to Create a Dropdown Menu–and Why You Need One

Without a dropdown menu, your website would look cluttered and overwhelming, deterring potential customers. Learn how to make a dropdown menu for your site.

There are a lot of elements that make up a good website. It needs to contain relevant information that is easily accessible. It needs to be visually appealing. It needs to be easy to navigate and functional.

Creating a website for your business is important, but that website needs to have the proper navigation. If your users can’t easily find what they’re looking for on your website, they’re going to click off and go somewhere else. A functional website is more likely to attract visitors and keep them on your site for longer. And in order for your website to be functional, it needs to have a dropdown menu.

But what is a dropdown menu, you ask?

A dropdown menu is a menu on a website that offers a list of options that a user can select. Without a dropdown menu, your website would look cluttered and overwhelming, which definitely isn’t something you want for your business.

In this article, we’ll be going over why having a dropdown menu is important, the difference between HTML vs. CSS dropdown menus, how to create an HTML drop-down list, and more. Continue reading to learn more about the importance of proper website navigation so you can provide your users with a positive experience on your website that keeps them coming back.

What is a dropdown menu?

A dropdown menu is a list of options on a website that appears only when a user interacts with the menu, like by clicking on it or hovering over it. When the dropdown menu appears, users can click on any of the options listed. The dropdown menu will then disappear when the user stops engaging with the menu.

An effective website design should be clean, consistent, and simple. It shouldn’t be overcrowded with a bunch of pictures and words. But keeping a website neat can be difficult, especially if you have a lot of content you want to include. That is unless you include a dropdown menu on your website. A dropdown menu is an easy and effective way to organize your website and allows users to easily find what they’re looking for.

Why should you create a dropdown menu?

Having a dropdown menu is key to having a functional website for your business. The purpose of a dropdown menu is so that you can conserve screen space while still giving your users access to all the content available on your website.

There are many benefits of creating a dropdown menu for your business’s website, such as:

  • Ensures good navigation: Rather than having important links located all over your website, a dropdown menu keeps them all neatly organized in one place. This will help to improve your user experience since your users won’t have to go searching for the links they’re looking for. They’ll all be conveniently located in your dropdown menu.
  • Improves website design: A good website design should be neat and functional. A busy, cluttered website is going to give your users a headache and make them more likely to click off and go to a competitor’s website instead. A dropdown menu frees up a lot of space on your website, which you can then leave blank or fill in with images.
  • Frees up sidebar space: Even if you organize all the categories on your website into the sidebar, that can still look messy and overwhelming. But the beauty of a dropdown menu is that it only appears when a user clicks on it or hovers over it, so it won’t take up all your sidebar space.
  • Looks professional: Your website is going to attract all sorts of people, including potential clients and business partners, so you need it to look professional. And a messy website definitely doesn’t look professional. A professional website encourages users to stick around and actually buy what you’re selling.

HTML vs CSS dropdown menus

When creating a dropdown menu for your business’s website, you have two coding options: HTML and CSS. HTML stands for hypertext markup language, and CSS stands for cascading style sheet language. HTML is used to design the structure of a website, while CSS is used to style web documents using different styling features such as font, layout, and color.

There are pros and cons to both HTML and CSS, and it’s important to know the differences so you can decide which is better to use for your dropdown menu.

Some of the pros of HTML are that it’s easy to write and every browser supports HTML language. HTML code is also very fast to download because the text is compressible. However, some of the cons of HTML code are that it can only create static and plain pages and there aren’t great security features. HTML code also has very limited styling capabilities, especially compared to CSS.

Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons of CSS. Some of the pros of CSS are that you can update multiple documents at once and no additional information is needed to retrieve information. CSS is also less time-consuming and easier to maintain. Some cons of CSS are that it’s vulnerable and it’s not supported by every browser. CSS also tends to be more confusing to learn because there are so many levels.

Both languages are necessary for creating a functional and attractive website, but there are some instances when one would be more useful than the other. For instance, if you just want to add style to your website or edit how the website is displayed, you would use CSS. But if you want to structure the content on your website, then you would use HTML. However, in most cases, HTML and CSS work together to create an attractive website that reflects your business’s brand.

How to make an HTML dropdown menu

So now that we’ve covered what a dropdown menu is and why they’re integral to a good website, let’s go over how to make an HTML dropdown list. Using HTML for a dropdown menu is actually quite simple. You have two options for dropdown menus: hoverable dropdown and multi-select dropdown.

A hoverable dropdown menu is the most basic type and it only appears when a user hovers over it. A multi-select dropdown menu is when a user can select multiple options from a menu. The process of creating these will differ slightly, but here are the steps for how to make an HTML dropdown list:

  1. Create a div with a class name “dropdown”: The first step in this process is to create a div and set the class attribute to “dropdown”. Then in CSS, you need to set the div’s display to “inline-block” and position it to “relative”. This ensures that the dropdown content will show up below the dropdown button.
  2. Make the hoverable element: You then need to make an element that will display the dropdown list when someone hovers over it. If you want to create a button for this, you need to place it inside the div.
  3. Create and style the dropdown content: Now you have to decide what content that you want to include in your dropdown menu. Remember, this content will only appear when someone hovers over it. The content will be wrapped in a div with the class name “dropdown content”.
  4. Make sure the dropdown menu hovers: To make sure that the dropdown menu actually appears when someone hovers over it, you need to set the div’s display property with the pseudo-class “hover”.
  5. Style the content inside the dropdown menu: In this step is when you’ll use CSS to style the content inside the dropdown menu so it looks attractive. You can also change the color of the dropdown links on hover.

Multi-select dropdown

With a hoverable dropdown menu, users can only select one option. But with a multi-select dropdown menu, users can select multiple options. Here are the steps for how to create a multi-select dropdown menu:

  1. Create a label element: First, you need to add a <label> element. A label element associates a text label with a form <input> field. For example, if your dropdown contains a list of breakfast recipes, then your attribute will say something like “breakfast-recipes”. In this case, your HTML would look like <label for=”breakfast-recipes”>Choose a breakfast recipe:</label>.
  2. Create a select element: The next step in creating a multi-select dropdown is to add a select element. The select element is used to select amongst a set of options in a list, but with a multi-select dropdown, you want to add the “multiple” attribute to the <select> element. So in the HTML, you’ll want to add a name and ID attribute and set them both as the same value as the attribute in step one. So in the case of breakfast recipes, it would look like <select name=”breakfast-recipes” multiple size=”5”>.
  3. Create options and put them inside the select element: The last step is when you’ll actually create the options for your dropdown menu. You can include as many options as you want, you just have to put them inside the select element. To do this, you need to add a value attribute within each opening <option> tag. So with breakfast recipes, it would look like <option value=”pancakes”>Pancakes</option>. With multi-select, your users can select multiple of these options.

Every website needs a good navigation

Having good navigation for your website is important for a myriad of reasons. Good navigation is beneficial for SEO purposes as well as customer benefits, so your customers can have a positive experience on your website. Having a functional and attractive website is crucial to the success of your business, and that starts with having a dropdown menu.

If you need help with creating an effective website for your business, you can use Mailchimp. Mailchimp is an all-in-one email marketing platform that offers help with everything from content creation to ecommerce, so you can manage your business more efficiently.

With Mailchimp, you get access to a myriad of helpful resources, such as a website builder and email marketing tools. So whether you need help with how to use content blocks or how to paste in HTML, Mailchimp can answer all the questions you have about website navigation.

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