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Is left hand navigation outdated?



5:38 pm on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I highly prefer it for larger, more interactive sites. However, we’re going a site redesign and in the impression testing we’ve done the easy #1 comment we’ve gotten back is that left hand navigation columns are outdated.

The sites we’ve used gather their testers in such a manner that they’re heavy on designers.

Is this just a snobby designer thing or does the standard internet user look at left hand navigation as “sooo 2005”?


9:33 pm on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

IMHO I believe it stems from sites trying to get more information above the fold by expanding the content section of the site and using dynamic drop down style menus either above or below the header. It also makes it easier to do a responsive design if you are not trying to relocate the navigation. However, I don't think left hand navigation is dead otherwise and is still used on the majority of sites.



9:35 pm on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

My guess is that the prevalence of left-hand navigation is partly thanks to the early days of the web when page design options and screen space were both far more limited. It's also certainly, in part, due to the fact that the web is dominated by left-to-right languages so users will naturally start to visually scan a page at the top-left corner. Even the fact that browser windows expand along the bottom and right-hand edges likely influences the inclination of designers to position the navigation menu along the left edge of the screen where it will tend to remain visible no matter the screen or browser window size.

But is the practice outdated? I don't think you can say that categorically since several of the factors I mentioned already are still applicable. But, as the saying goes, form follows function. For a visually-oriented or informal website, the design doesn't need to heavily favor such principles. There's another cliche' that fits well here: It's an art, not a science. Or: One size never fits all. I like them both.


11:20 pm on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lucy24 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time Top Contributors Of The Month

I saw the thread title and thought "But, but, I've always moused with my left hand!"

I'll go away now. There's an unanswered question next door.


11:42 pm on Aug 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I'm working with one designer who uses a jquery function to keep left hand navigation from scrolling off the screen. I love it and apparently the visitors do too, because user engagement stats improved after the design change - and the old site had hover menus.

There's nothing like actual data for making a decision, rather than opinion and fashion trends. You can't deposit aesthetics in the bank.


9:10 pm on Aug 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what size browser window the visitor uses, the top left of the page is always shown, hence, when they scroll down, the left edge of the page is always visable (if they haven't scrolled right).


6:13 am on Aug 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

it's not a term outdated but it's on area of appearance on devices. You can say that you have to think with users and make it responsive (as per current trends).

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