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Hackernoon logoThe Basic UX Design Tradeoffs for Navigation Menus by@jrdnbwmn

The Basic UX Design Tradeoffs for Navigation Menus

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@jrdnbwmnJordan Bowman

👨‍💻 I design stuff for the web and run

Navigation menus are one of the most-viewed and most-clicked-on pieces of interface. Let’s look at some principles of nav design that will help our users have a better experience.

1) Placement matters

The web has developed a clear pattern for where navigation goes (very
top, left side, or in the footer). When menus are placed outside of
these areas, it feels awkward, confusing, and hard to find.

2) Show them where they are

Clearly communicate the user’s current location. Use multiple clues,
like the ones below, to help them orient themselves. Our users should
never have to wonder where they are.

3) Mega menus vs. dropdowns

Research shows that mega menus provide a better experience than list
dropdowns because they show everything at a glance, are able to utilize
imagery, allow for better grouping, and feel more engaging.

4) Effective link titles

A user should be able to easily predict where a link will take them
before they click it (this is called information scent). The single
biggest factor in this is how good of a job we do at link labeling.

5) How many items?

The right number of items in your menu depends on a few things, like
how complicated your product is or how savvy your users are. But try to
get to fewer than 6 or 7 items. The order also matters.

6) Don’t hide it

Navigation menus are one of the most-clicked-on pieces of interface,
and they provide major contextual information to the user, so it should
always be visible.

The default on mobile these days seems to be the hamburger menu, but
there are alternatives that don’t hide the nav completely: tabs,
progressive collapsing, scrollable lists, and so on.

7) Visual design tips

Good UI design makes a big difference. Below are a few tips to create
a better experience. When in doubt, test! And don’t forget about

That’s it! Thanks for reading.

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