CVS Caremark : Adopting style without reason
Over-population of a preview panel subverts its benefits.
CVS Caremark, a US-based pharmacy services provider, clouds its navigation in misapplying a fashionable menu display.
It uses a conventional-looking horizontal primary navigation bar for the five sections of its corporate site. Mousing over a section heading produces a mega menu panel covering the full width of the page and overlaying the top third of it. However, whichever heading is moused over, the panel display is identical: the secondary navigation menus for all sections are listed below their respective headings. These mirror the secondary left-hand menus within sections and can be used to open sub-sections on click.
Menu mega-panels are an effective way to not only highlight but also preview section content, often with the inclusion of rich media. Their steady spread has gathered pace in the past year or so, ensuring web users are sufficiently familiar with them to find CVS’s deployment of the device both unusual and distracting. Its arrangement breaks with the norm, by providing a universal panel that covers every section, but also forgoes the trademark benefit of the format, as a content preview or superior quick links feature that can accommodate images and video links.
The panel here instead functions much like a site map, showing all secondary links in all sections, with no obvious benefit to usability (there is a separate site map). If anything, in fact, it clouds the navigation, by offering a clutter of links most of which are unrelated to the user’s immediate concern as expressed in their choice of section heading. Users may also not anticipate its comprehensiveness and assume they need to click into sections to see the menu in full. Abandoning the current set-up in favour of more conventional dropdown menu panels would resolve the issues, if not CVS’s apparent desire to appear fashionable. If it sticks with the current panel it needs to look to its substance as well as its style.http://info.cvscaremark.com/
First published on 25 October, 2011