Vertical Navigation, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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Vertical Navigation

Vertical navigation sparks both interest and disdain among designers and site owners. People travel your site using navigation menus so you better make a good choice before you go live.

Know what vertical menus actually are before you decide.

Vertical Navigation has Benefits

The right website with the right design benefits from using a vertical menu. Sites featuring large visuals on the home page are possible candidates.

Positive Points to A Vertical Menu

  • Good for responsive design
  • Links containing short text
  • Single page layouts
  • Vertical navigation is easy to change

Modern technology has made it easier to design websites that are both eye-catching and interactive. As long as the layout is compact and easy to follow, visitors may develop a positive impression. The compact size helps to keep the attention of your targeted visitor where you want it, on your content.

Although short links are good, a menu having longer names is better suited with a vertical layout. Horizontal menus tend to look sloppy when long sentences are opened. A vertical menu displays the same neatly across the page.

Vertical navigation is good for responsive design. The menu always opens the same on any size screen. Single page lay-outs benefit because visitors don’t have to wait for a new page to load. The menu is easier to alter and looks cleaner compared to rearranging a horizontal placement.

Ugly Face of Vertical Navigation in Web Design

The ugly face of vertical design goes back to when websites were one-level deep. Each page had its spot on the home pages menu. Designer’s realized the left side was the logical place for that menu and placed it there. A major drawback to this was websites were one-level deep with no real organization. To add a page meant you placed it on the left menu and that was it.

Vertical Menus Not Optimal for Web Design

  • Content marketing needs an easy to follow content path
  • Long navigation menu wastes space
  • Horizontal menus are common
  • Top menus attract more attention

This doesn’t work today. Site owner’s need a clear, easy to follow path of content that lead’s a visitor toward the desired goal. Doesn’t matter if it’s information, a sign-up or sale; the road should be clear and easy to follow.

In-depth testing shows the left side of the page to be a hotspot for visitor attention. A long, messy menu running down your page is wasting valuable space.

Usability issues occur when you use sub-menus. Vertical sub-menus run sideways across the page. This wastes space because it’s where a visitor’s eyes will be looking. Not only that, people are used to the top, drop-down style of menu. It takes a little effort to adjust to the vertical method.

A study called Eyetrack III , confirms top menus get more attention. People just tend to ignore the left placed menus; they will read down the content area in the familiar F-shaped pattern.

You should be aware of the impact a menu has on visitors and on content marketing. The success of your site can be aided by the right design, so choose carefully. We have recently put together a site with vertical navigation, check it out and let us know what you think in the comments section!

Chris is a father of 4 and works full time as a network engineer. He loves The Office, P & R, brewing (and drinking) beer, and of course Web Design and SEO.

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