You might have noticed that sticky navigation has become a trend many popular websites are adapting. Not sure what sticky nav is? Well it’s the menu bar or navigation that remains anchored at either the top, bottom, or side of the browser window as the content scrolls beneath the navigation menu. This leads to a more convenient experience that surfers seem to be pleased with. And as a result, the combination of sticky nav and infinite scrolling is now becoming much more common in web designs.
Sticky navigation is actually becoming so favored that you can find it being adopted in many popular news sites like USA Today, ABC News, and MSNBC to name a few. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ have also incorporated it. A usability study done by Smashing Magazine found that sticky nav is 22% quicker to navigate, and a whopping 100% of users preferred it without even being able to identify why. Also, many websites are giving this feature a “+1” because it can result in a more consistent brand presence and clearer navigation.
In addition to sticky nav, another current mobile design trend is smart navigation. Although it’s similar, it’s very different and can work alongside sticky navigation. It’s making it’s impact felt in many mobile browsers these days, positively influencing how users navigate. It’s a less intrusive, “smarter” nav that hides the top and bottom browser controls when a user scrolls down the page, and reappears when scrolling up. It’s cleaner and maximizes your design real estate. Chrome for iphone and Safari iOS7 have both implemented this less intrusive smart nav based on user scrolling.
It’s important to keep in mind that sticky nav needs to be well designed, fully thought out and nonintrusive in order to be successful. Many users find that it can be annoying especially if it takes up space in the viewport, is too colorful, or contains too many elements. It could also cause slight disorientation with some users who aren’t comfortable with the user interface changing in such a dynamic way. Putting aside those few factors, sticky nav’s can be extremely beneficial for certain types of sites, creating an easy-access navigation that promotes a more user-friendly site experience. Let’s stick to that!