When it comes to developing and designing your website, it’s tempting to get a little too creative. Technically, you can put your nav bars wherever you like—at the top of the page, along either side, “hidden” in images or peppered throughout. With platforms like WordPress allowing for easy customization and seemingly millions of web designers begging you for a gig, it’s easy to get swept up in design and forget about practicality. However, bear in mind that users want accessibility and if you don’t give it up then someone else will.
There are certain things on a website that need to remain constant, and nav bars are one of them. A user isn’t going to search for long for the “contact us” section or a gallery. No matter how niche you think you are, there’s plenty of competition out there giving you a run for your money. With nav bars, classic is best and here are the best places for them:
- The top of the page
This one is timeless: A clear, easy to read nav bar that graces the top of your website is one of the most natural for users. However, if you have a lot of content on your homepage (you shouldn’t) and landing pages (it’s possible), you don’t want your users to have to constantly scroll up and down just to get around. Opt for a fixed, discreet nav bar at the top so clicking is made simple.
- On the left
“To the left, to the left,” as Beyonce said, and she had it spot on. A nav bar that runs along the left side of the page is very traditional and easy to fix into place. It’s where many users will look first, especially older demographics whose brains are still wired from the early days to always look left (both when crossing the street and perusing websites). It’s kind of like when Facebook makes a massive change: People don’t like it and they’ll boycott it.
- On the right
There was a time when right-sided nav bars were something new, and they’re one of the few trends which stuck around. People look both directions when checking out a website, so if the style simply dictates that right is, well, right, go with it. When people enter a physical store, the vast majority go right first which is why fashion merchandisers put the items they most want to sell to the right. The same can work for you and your website.
- At the bottom
Some users know to scroll to the bottom for better nav bars such as sitemaps and more detailed “about us.” However, not everybody will do that—especially if they have to do quite a bit of scrolling to get there. Bottom nav bars are best used when you feel like you have to offer a little more complexity but you don’t really want your customers going directly to “contact us” (think major companies that use auto customer service). This can work for tech savvy demographics.
Otherwise, steer clear of more creative layouts. It’ll just confuse your users, and that’s the last thing you want.
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