Your site's navigation is of utmost importance. Not only is it essential that it be user-friendly and functional, but it should also look good. You can use jQuery to amp up your menus in terms of functionality and appearance, and it's not as hard as you think thanks to plugins. Here are eight of the top jQuery plugins for menus.
This plugin is one of my favorites, for the effect it gives menus when implemented is visually stunning, to say the least. As the title would suggest, this jQuery plugin gives you the power to create a sliding menu with pictures. Photography sites and others which rely heavily on pictures and visual stimulation would be perfect for the Sliding Picture Menu plugin.
The plugin is very easy to use. You can add sub-menus as well for increased navigation. If you really want to get busy with the plugin, it has several options that you can tweak to completely customize your menu's look and functionality. You can adjust the width and height of the menu, the opacity of inactive menu items, the animation speed, and more. If you really want to wow your visitor's with your navigation, this is the plugin to use.
The jOrbital plugin is an awesome way to make your site's menus more efficient while infusing some impressive animation effects at the same time. The plugin offers you a way to create circular menus that have an orbiting effect once activated. In essence, you can create a single button which houses many other categories and sub-menus. Hovering over the button will expand other menus, and clicking on each of those will open up even more menus.
By condensing various menus into a single button, your site becomes free of unsightly clutter. This format also allows you to group similar elements into a single section for better site organization. While jOrbital is great for creating simple menus, you can also use the jQuery plugin for multi-level navigation, circular galleries, and more. In short, jOrbital offers you the best of both worlds in terms of simplicity and visual stimulation.
If you are looking to add a rather unique style and format to your menus, using the multi-level accordion approach is one way to do so. The MLA Menu jQuery plugin was designed to help you integrate an in-depth accordion format to your site's navigation. While the final effect may seem like it would take a lot of work, the plugin is very easy to implement. You can inject an infinite level of unordered lists as well, making this a solid choice for designers with large and complex sites. The MLA Menu plugin also works across various popular browsers, so compatibility issues are not a concern.
The jdMenu jQuery plugin is a powerful tool that can help you create hierarchical drop down menus for your site. Perhaps the best characteristic of jdMenu is its wide list of features. The plugin is AJAX supportive and will also work in Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Implementing jdMenu will not hurt your SEO efforts, either. You can customize your menus in a variety of ways and position them absolutely, relatively, or statically. You can create vertical or horizontal menus, and you can theme your menus based on a CSS style sheet with ease. If you have custom animations that you want to integrate into your menus, jdMenu allows for this as well. You get all of these features from jdMenu, and the plugin is just 3kb in size.