Responsive Navigation: Dynamic Menus for Mobile Browsing


Responsive Web design has become one of the standards of website design. It does not matter if it’s about setting up an online store, a news blog, or a showcase for a company. Potential customers are no longer surfing the web from a desktop computer or laptop as usual, but using mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. This is not new, but it is the confirmation of the growing numbers of mobile device sales and the use of the Web. You can read our mobile optimization guide to help you get started with your web project.

It is clear that more and more importance is given to the mobile in the digital world; it is, therefore, appropriate to offer optimal usability to users. One of the main aspects of mobile optimization is responsive navigation.

Mobile browsing is a particular challenge for Web designers: the user behavior of small touch screens is barely comparable to that of large screens, with which a mouse is used to facilitate navigation. In order to provide a satisfying and intuitive user experience for users of mobile devices, a lot of time has to be spent in setting up responsive navigation. The behavior of the user changes, as does his expectations: the user or potential customer is not patient on the Internet. If it does not arrive easily from point A to point B, it will quickly close the Web page in question. This can decrease the traffic or even the turnover of a company.

Responsive Navigation: Usability Solutions

Good navigation is the backbone and spearhead of a website and allows the user to find the relevant information he is looking for. The different commands should work as simply as possible, be understandable and obvious so as to allow intuitive use. The particular challenges of responsive browsing are especially the lack of space and tactile use on mobile devices. There are; however, some solutions allowing clear and favorable navigation to the user.

The basis of Responsive Design is that the content of a page adapts dynamically to all types of media and their technical requirements. This also applies naturally to responsive navigation.

In this respect, the “Mobile First” approach is often appropriate. This design principle puts mobile optimization in the forefront. Usability and performance are among the main objectives of this approach. Then comes the adaptation to the display on computer and laptop. Transposing a desktop website version to a mobile often requires a lot of time and money for an unsatisfactory result for the user.

Before you start planning and implementing responsive navigation, you need to find answers to some basic questions. The first decision to make is the position of the navigation menu on the web page

Where the navigation menu should be placed?

According to the most common models, we find the navigation menu in the header and at the bottom of the page. On mobile pages, the user finds only a footnote reference where the navigation menu is located.

The navigation menus at the bottom of the page are not always favorable to the user because this placement sometimes leads to confusion on the contrary. That’s why the focus is on the content of the homepage. Mobile browsing is more often found at the beginning of the page than in the header. This type of implementation is considered classic for most users.

How is the navigation structured?

There are different possibilities for structuring a navigation menu. Browsing in list form, and that in the form of a frame, are the most common. The classical presentation by lists is possible as well with a single level (or floor) with several. The benefits are simple setup and the fact that users are used to it.

A navigation frame is ideal when it consists of few elements. These are displayed in the frame next to each other, and the number of columns and the size of the screen depend on the size of the screen. If you project a two-column frame, the number of points should be even to avoid an asymmetric representation.

Different navigation concepts

We now come to an important question: how does mobile navigation look?  The form and manner in which navigation is presented to the user to determine the concept. The representation options are various: either the navigation is directly in the visual field of the user, it is open in one click, or it moves on the content. We have accumulated some examples.

“Do nothing.”

One of the simplest mobile navigation concepts is often characterized by the slogan “Do nothing ” or “do nothing”. In this case, we only slightly adapt the navigation of the original website, we increase the distance between the different navigation points in order to visit the site in question in a pleasant way. Such a solution is relatively simple in implementation and implementation but requires a little investment for programming.

Navigation on a drop-down menu

Typical types of responsive navigation include a so-called drop-down menu. You will remember the most common navigation modes, which are therefore more intuitive for users. The navigation is activated by clicking on the corresponding button, and it is placed on the content.

Slide down Navigation

Toggle Navigation, or slide down in English, is one of the most popular navigation modes. There is also talk of accordion navigation. With a click on the menu button, it appears. Unlike the drop-down menu, the menu does not appear on the content but shifts it down. This type of navigation is a little more expensive in the realization, but is scalable and saves you money. It represents an elegant solution through the possibility of the integration of simple navigation subcategories, but also sometimes more complex.

Off-Canvas Navigation

This type of responsive navigation is outside the visible area of ​​a website. The menu is not integrated in the layout. That’s why Off-Canvas navigation is a way to save space on your website. The menu appears after clicking the menu icon and moves the entire layout. This solution is very suitable for large menu structures with many submenus. A famous example of setting up Off-Canvas navigation is that of the mobile version of Facebook.

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