Fixed or “sticky” navigation bars are a prevalent trend in some of the most shockingly beautiful sites across the web. These benignly set bars allow for ease of access to a website’s core functionalities, regardless of where a user may be in the midst of a page’s content. Yet there are more than a few critics of the fixed bar model. The most common complaints include words like: “unnecessary” and “distracting” pitched about in regular intervals.
Truthfully there are merits to both sides of the argument, and the proper use of fixed navigation bars remains a contextual and subjective matter. In other words, it’s largely a question of user preference that determines a fixed navigation bar’s effect on usability.
There are, however, distinct advantages and disadvantages to their use. Today we’ll take a gander at both sides of the argument and attempt to decipher the best and worst uses of this particular trend.
Advantages in usability
The advantages to fixed navigation bars should be obvious. They, quite simply, make browsing a website far easier. Having a main menu of options at your immediate disposal is a major feather in the impatient user’s cap, especially if the website has an exhaustive amount of content contained within.
This is important for several reasons, but chief among them is speed. Quick and easy flow through a website is extremely important. With an ever-present guidepost fixed at the top or side of the screen, a site owner never need worry about his or her user flows being dammed up by confusion or immobility.
This is particularly significant when dealing with copious amounts of content. Famous examples of this concept come in the form of everyone’s favorite social media platforms: Facebook and Twitter. Both sites feature news feeds with nigh infinite information loading up at the bottom of the screen.