Designing an effective website means balancing the stylish, with the practical. And nowhere is this balance more important than the navigation bar or menu. This is the tool that users will use to navigate to the pages they want to go to. And find the information they need. Being able to do this, in less than three clicks, with speed and accuracy is incredibly important for the vast majority of your users, who want to get answers immediately. As a result, designing an effective navigation bar or menu, is essential for your websites success overall. One option is side navigation or vertical navigation. And this is becoming increasingly popular. But is it really effective? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of vertical navigation bars? Well, here at Pumpkin Web Design Manchester, we are Manchester’s leading web design experts. And we create stunning websites for companies across the North West, including Southport and Wigan. As a result, we have produced this guide exploring side navigation. So, is side navigation effective?
What are vertical navigation bars?
As simple as it sounds, vertical navigation involves putting the navigation menu or bar, vertically down the side of the page. This tends to be the left side of the page in the UK, as we read from left to right.
There are a number of different ways to use this navigation style, including:
- opening on a click- this is an extension of the hamburger menu in that once the icon is clicked, the navigation bar will slide out on the left side, for users to select a page
- static bar- a vertical static bar is also a popular choice and generally takes the form of a thin bar running down the left side of the page. This is helpful as it means the menu options are not initially hidden, which reduces the interaction cost for users, and makes navigation easier.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of vertical navigation bars?
Side navigation can be a useful feature for a range of websites. The advantages of using vertical navigation include:
- offering something different to your competitors- many websites look the same. Or at least similar. Turning the navigation bar from a static horizontal header feature, to a vertical feature can help to make your website stand out. And offer something unusual. Which could be enough to pique user interest and increase sales.
- list is easy to scan- our eyes naturally move down the website page. Not necessarily across. So using a vertical side bar navigation option can make it easy for users to skim read the page options, as part of their natural eye movements. And anything that makes life easier for users, improves the user experience.
But the disadvantages include:
- word length- the titles of your navigation options need to be short enough for users to read in a small, thin bar, without having to change the font size or style and without effecting the rest of the design.
- across the screen- because the menu is on the opposite side to the scroll bar, laptop and desktop users will need to move the mouse across the screen to change pages each time. And this is potentially irritating.
So, what’s the verdict?
Vertical navigation can be effective, when the website is designed around this feature. Static navigation bars are more effective than hidden bars, so if you want to use a side bar, keep it static. However, users are more accustomed to horizontal navigation, and this can be more useful.
For more information about navigation options and professional web design, get in touch with the experts today, here at Pumpkin Web Design Manchester.