Website Navigation Trends

1. Sticky navbars

Navigation is designed to help users get from point A to all other points on a site. And keeping the nav menu in a fixed place enables users to navigate the site from anywhere on the page. Many websites 'stick' their main navigation to the top of the screen as the user scrolls down to explore content.

This has become easier thanks to CSS and jQuery plugins and many website themes now come with a sticky navbar as the default, and this trend is showing no signs on going anywhere. Consistent navigation and usability are both important, but the fixed navbar is also handy for mobile users, where the site is naturally longer and thinner.

However, make sure the navbar doesn’t take up too much space. It shouldn’t be so large that it blocks major portions of the page content. The site for US Magazine gets around this issue by resizing having its navigation bar shrink in size as the user scrolls down, making it less intrusive. As long as the user can still consume the page content they’ll probably benefit from a universally accessible fixed navigation.
2. Mega menus

The mega menu has been popularised with the increase of magazine-style blogs. They differ from normal drop-downs because instead of just flowing down vertically these mega menus expand wider, usually containing multiple columns of content. This technique works well if used judiciously but it’s not great for every site. In fact it’s really only useful if you have enough content to justify a mega menu.

This trend does not work on mobile, since there’s no room on the screen. But plenty of people still browse the web on desktops and laptops so there’s a wide audience out there in support of the mega menu.
3. Globally hidden menus

Every web designer should know about hamburger icons and their use in responsive design. But as people become more familiar with the hamburger icon and what it means, more and more sites are keeping the navigation hidden from view at all times.

This may seem strange because it doesn’t help the visitor find links quickly. However it does clear up space on the screen by removing the navigation from sight. There have been various studies that indicate most users struggle with hidden menus. But this trend may be changing with more people using smartphones and growing familiar with the hamburger icon’s significance.

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