It can be easy to ignore the importance of navigation design. The other aspects of websites are so much more obvious and exciting: colours and shapes, fonts and photography. But without good navigation design, your website might look great but be way too frustrating to use.
Navigation is, of course, the means by which a user gets from one page to another when using your site. The best websites will have intuitive navigation and menus that make immediate sense. Giving a clear structure to your site, and enabling your users to make their way through it, is the best means of helping your content do its thing.
There are all sorts of methods and techniques to make sense of navigation on behalf of your users – and, as with all elements of design, there are trends to take into account, too. We’re currently seeing five key approaches to menu design that can really help make a site comprehensible to first-time visitor or long-time user alike.
Sticky Navigation Bars, for example, keep the navigation menu in a fixed place on each page. This enables users to navigate the site from anywhere on the page – because the navbar follows them as they scroll through content. This is a great way of encouraging users to explore your site without risking them getting lost.
Mega Menus are increasingly popular on websites, perhaps because they are rather different from more common, and therefore a little dreary, drop-down menus. Instead of just flowing downwards along a vertical line, mega menus expand wider, usually containing multiple columns of content. This is particularly useful if your site has a lot of inter-related content.
Responsive Sub Navigation Menus are also crucial for sites with lots of pages. Designers will often hide some navigation links on mobile platforms, in order to help the menu fit better on small screens. This design trend retains the space-saving virtues of drop-down menus, but hides them by default behind a “hamburger” icon which, once clicked, expands across the content area.
All Capitalisation, meanwhile, is a rather more subtle trend but no less powerful. Here, the text of a menu item is displayed in ALL CAPS, offering a text style that feels clear, intuitive and symmetrical. We’re seeing this more and more, and, unlike other uses of all-caps online, it never feels like shouting.
Finally, single page navigation is making a lot of the above redundant. Many sites – particularly those with less content to squeeze in – are now simply a single page with anchor points: click a menu item and the page automatically scrolls to the corresponding section. As well as sticky navbars, dot navigation – a series of circular icons located on the left or right side of the screen – is a big thing here, and helps further enhance the natural sleekness of single page sites.
So there you have it: navigation is changing, and you need to stay up-to-date if your users are going to stick with you. With luck, this quick review of the top five web navigations trends for 2018 has helped you find your way, too …
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