The navigation menu is the main source of uniquely styled UI that prompts the user to move through the website. Each technique of navigation is a function and supports the journey in which conversions are the end goal. The format, path, and system all play a role in the functionality of the guide.
The main navigation is often presented in a global navigation area — meaning that it remains the same across the entire website. This area tends to include the site logo and functional navigation such as login and search links.
First, let's discuss the difference between the Main Navigation and Utility Navigation.
- Connects one page to another based on the hierarchy of the site. On any page, you’d expect to be able to move to the page above it and pages below it.
- Connects pages with similar topics and content, regardless of their location in the site. These links tend to cross structural boundaries.
- Connects pages and features that help people use the site itself. These may lie outside the main hierarchy of the site, and their only relationship to one another is their function.
Figure 4-1. Three primary categories of navigation (after Fiorito and Dalton)
Main Navigation - The main navigation is typically where you want your visitors to look first, while the utility nav is secondary.
The main navigation generally represents the top-level pages of a site’s structure—or the pages just below the home page. The links in the main navigation are expected to lead to pages within the site and behave in a very consistent way. Users don’t expect to land somewhere completely unrelated when using main navigation links. Changes in navigation from page to page are usually small when using the main navigation.
Now, the navigation menu can be of different types. From simple menus that are based on clear and uncomplicated typography, there are navigation menus that are energetic and have preset positions on the website.
Utility - This utility navigation bar often features pages of your website that rarely change. Such as the FAQ, Contact, or About page.
This navigation bar is often overlooked and some clients may have no clue what this even is.
Depending on the design of your site, the utility menu should go above your main navigation. It’s also commonly found in the top right corner.
If your main navigation has a lot of links, adding a utility nav is a great way to declutter. It also helps to prioritize links.
Depending on the structure and content of your site, a utility nav might not be necessary. More sites are leaning towards minimalism and a clean navigation, so a utility navigation might not always be a good option.
It is always good to incorporate changes or try new things in business.
That is why web designers are now trying to involve new ideas of navigation menus in their designing techniques. Apart from great looks these new techniques must have enough functionality. Users should not feel any kind of difficulties in using them.
1. Standard Horizontal Menu
The most common navigation menu style is horizontal text-based navigation. This type of navigation presents a horizontal list of the main site pages, typically named in one or two words.
2. Hamburger Menu/Fly Out
The three-line icon was originally designed to simply indicate a list within the system. These days, the hamburger menu or three-line menu is a compact solution often seen on mobile responsive websites that hides the traditional file menu until clicked.
3. Sticky or Fixed Menu
A popular trend in UI navigation and one that we implement often, the sticky or fixed navigation menu does not disappear when the user scrolls down a web page. Sticky navigation is typically used in websites where the main call to action elements are within the primary horizontal navigation bar.
4. Interactive navigation
This is one of the leading navigation menus where there are static scenes, virtual talks and interactive videos which are all spiced with the pragmatic features which are powered by these non-standard menus that catch eyes. It is a huge hit menu as it promises it’s users that the website shall be more engaging, intricate and impressive despite the fact they are suffering from non-compatibility with devices and browsers.
5. Foot Menu
This kind of menu is more similar to another traditional menu known as the streamlined bar. The difference is that this takes place at the bottom of Web page sticking to its previous position as the users scroll down. It is called as the footer navigation for the same reason. Although most of us are accustomed to the tradition of searching for the menu on the upper part of UI, this one though stands different from them benefits some concepts which would distinctively require such kind of feature.
Do I need a Utility and a Main navigation menu?
This depends on the amount of information you decide to share on your main page. Decide where you want your users to go first and take them on that journey. If you need more room for different menus, then add in a Utility bar for easy access to traditional information.
Can I change the style of my navigation menu over time?
Of course, but with delicacy as you don't want to confuse the normal path of users. Start with AB testing and work your way up to a set menu. Feel good about trying new things!
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