Website Usability and Fixed Navigation

Website Usability and Fixed Navigation

This may sound like a foreign language to some, but our design and development departments have quite an affinity for website usability and fixed navigation – also known as sticky menus. Sticky Menus Are Quicker To Navigate is a recent article on Smashing Magazine that helps to explain why they are beneficial to a site’s navigation; and, therefore, its user experience and the overall success of the website.

First off, let’s clarify what we mean by sticky menus. “Sticky, or fixed, navigation is basically a website menu that is locked into place so that it does not disappear when the user scrolls down the page; in other words, it is accessible from anywhere on the website without having to scroll.” This means that when a user is browsing a site and scrolls to the bottom of the page, the menu is still visible at the top of the window of the browser. Ultimately, the menu is floating above the page elements, so the user does not have to scroll back to the top of the page to access the menu and navigate the site.

The author of Smashing Magazine’s article conducted an experiment and had some interesting findings. Fascinatingly enough, every single one (that’s right, 100%) of the participants preferred the sticky menus to the traditional static menus. Users found the site with the sticky menu easier to use – almost subconsciously. No one could identify what was easier or faster about it, just that the site with the sticky menus helped them achieve their goals faster - 22% faster to be exact, making them more efficient and improving the user experience.

Some large players in the online world recently adopted sticky menus – including Facebook and Google. At Xynergy® we are starting to evaluate the use of sticky menus in more client projects. If it fits the aesthetic of the site’s design, and makes navigation much easier on pages with a lot of content and scrolling, then we recommend this approach. But, there are some limitations to keep in mind, and mobile browsing is a big one. There are certainly ways to successfully achieve sticky menus on mobile devices; it just takes a bit more design and development time.

If you are interested in how we can help make your website more usable and successful, give us a call today.

Branding & Design, Websites & Mobile Apps