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HomeWeb DevelopmentDesigning The Excellent Cellular Navigation UX — Smashing Journal

Designing The Excellent Cellular Navigation UX — Smashing Journal

Relating to advanced navigation on cellular, we regularly take into consideration hamburger menus, full-page overlays, animated slide-in-menus, and a variety of nested accordions. Not all of those choices carry out effectively, and there are some different design patterns which can be price exploring. Let’s dive in!

This text is a part of our ongoing sequence on design patterns. It’s additionally part of the 4-weeks dwell UX coaching 🍣 and is obtainable in our just lately launched 8h-video course.

1. Keep away from Too Many Signposts In Your Navigation

One of the vital frequent methods for navigation on cellular is to make use of a great ol’ accordion. The truth is, accordions work very effectively for a number of ranges of navigation and are normally higher than slide-in menus. Nevertheless, since we open and collapse menus, we additionally want to point it with an icon. This typically ends in too many indicators pulling consumer’s consideration in too many instructions.

Three different mobile views of Vodafone’s website using three examples of three icons being used to navigate the website

Within the instance above, Vodafone makes use of 3 completely different icons, pointing both to the underside (accordion collapsed), to the highest (accordion open), or to the suitable. The latter signifies that the choice is a hyperlink, driving customers to a class web page. That is, nevertheless, not instantly apparent.

Two mobile views of the Vodafone website showing underlined links within accordions

An alternate — and maybe a barely extra apparent method — is by including a hyperlink underline to hyperlinks and eradicating the icons subsequent to them altogether. As a facet impact, if we finally have to combine collapsible menus and hyperlinks to classes, it’s maybe a bit extra apparent which is which.

Three different views of the Swisscom website shown on mobile

On the whole, pointing customers in too many instructions is usually pointless. It’s fairly probably that you simply’ll have the ability to obtain higher outcomes with simply two icons, indicating whether or not an accordion is open or not. That’s the way it’s finished on Swisscom (pictured above), for instance.

Three views showing one icon being used on the website of the Icelandic Postal Service

Alternatively, Icelandic Postal Service makes use of only one single icon, and to point growth of the accordion, modifications the colour of the heading of the part. This appears to be working pretty effectively, too.

It’s a good suggestion to keep away from too many icons guiding customers in too many instructions. If we are able to get away with out them, it’s a good suggestion to check what occurs if we do.

Extra after leap! Proceed studying beneath ↓

2. Don’t Overload Your Navigation With A number of Actions

Generally navigation menus mix two completely different features in a single single navigation bar. For instance, what in case you have classes that you simply need to hyperlink to instantly, however then you definately additionally need to enable for fast jumps into sub-menu objects?

Normally, this implies including two completely different actions to the identical navigation bar. A faucet on the title of the class would result in the class; a faucet on the icon would open an accordion or immediate a separate view. And to make this distinction a bit extra apparent, we regularly add a vertical separator. Sadly, in observe, that doesn’t work too effectively.

Tivoli overloads the navigation bar with multiple actions - too often it doesn’t work well

Within the instance above on Tivoli Gardens Copenhagen, every part title is linked to a standalone class web page. A faucet on the icon on the suitable, nevertheless, opens a separate sub-navigation. Certainly, a vertical separator does assist to differentiate between the 2 actions, nevertheless it nonetheless causes loads of errors.

Generally customers need to simply assess the navigation at a look, and so they aren’t but committing to going to a devoted web page. But right here they’re, being pushed in direction of a web page simply after they aren’t able to go there in any respect. And as soon as they do, they then must return again to the earlier web page and begin another time. Ideally, we’d keep away from this downside altogether.

Three screenshots of the Mammut website as seen on mobile

On Mammut, the total navigation bar drives the consumer to the second degree of navigation. Their customers can transfer to find all objects inside the class or leap right into a sub-category. Issues solved. Moderately than overloading the navigation bar with separators and separate actions, we can assist customers transfer ahead confidently and comfortably and forestall errors altogether. The subsequent motion is all the time only a faucet away.

At all times contemplate including a hyperlink to the class web page inside the expanded accordion or in a separate view, and assign solely a singular operate to all the bar — opening that view.

3. Use The Billboard Sample For Prime Duties

Not each navigation merchandise is equally essential. Some objects are extra often used, and so they may deserve a bit of bit extra highlight in your navigation. The truth is, if some objects are extra essential than others, we are able to use the billboard sample and show them extra prominently above the navigation.

Mobile views of three websites: Otto, Korea Post and Deutsche Post

Within the examples above — Otto, Korea Put up and Deutsche Put up — we show crucial subjects or options extra prominently whereas the remainder of the navigation is obtainable, however will get a barely much less distinguished presence.

Viewing the Otto.de website on mobile

4. Nested Accordions Work For Knowledgeable Customers

Similar to we would have too many icons, we would find yourself with too many nested ranges of navigation, neatly packaged inside nested accordions. For advanced websites, it looks as if one of many few choices to current an enormous quantity of navigation obtainable on the location. The truth is, we may argue that by permitting customers to leap from any web page to any web page on the 4th and even fifth degree of navigation, we are able to massively pace them up of their journeys.

Three mobile versions of the European Central Bank website

Surprisingly sufficient, this appears to be proper. Knowledgeable customers sometimes don’t have huge usability points with a number of nested accordions. Nevertheless, rare customers typically wrestle to seek out the data that they want as a result of they don’t perceive how the data is organized.

In advanced environments, navigation normally mirrors the best way the group is structured internally, and with out that prior information discovering the suitable path to the suitable web page is troublesome at greatest. In that case, as soon as a consumer is in search of one thing very particular, they appear to make use of search fairly than traversing the navigation tree up and down. This turns into obvious particularly when the distinction between ranges isn’t apparent, corresponding to on WHO, for instance (pictured beneath).

Taking a closer look at the website of the World Trade Organization

If we have to embody a number of ranges of navigation inside nested accordions, it’s a good suggestion to glitter only a tiny little bit of typographic and visible distinction to the menu in order that each degree of navigation is clearly distinct, and it’s additionally apparent when hyperlinks to precise pages begin showing. Examine the fast mock-up beneath.

A mock-up of the World Trade Organization website

One other strategy to point out a number of ranges of nesting is by including several types of icons to make it extra apparent the place customers at the moment are. That is the way it’s finished on the Stockholm College web site. Personally, I wasn’t in a position to confirm how effectively this design sample works, however when mixed with higher typographic distinction, this is likely to be performing higher and is unquestionably price testing.

Three mobile views of the Stockholm University website

DOT, a public transportation web site from Denmark, makes use of the + icon throughout a number of ranges for his or her nested accordions. Whereas the chevron is positioned on the left, the + are all the time positioned on the suitable. Thus, they show 4 ranges of navigation with nested accordions. Maybe it’s a bit an excessive amount of navigation, nevertheless it appears to be working pretty effectively.

Mobile views of three websites: Otto, Korea Post and Deutsche Post

However, it won’t be wanted in any respect. Allianz will get away with utilizing a single icon (chevron up and down), however with clearly completely different designs for each navigation degree. The primary degree is highlighted with white textual content on a blue background; the second degree is designed in daring; and the third degree is obvious textual content (which may, in fact, be hyperlinks, too).

Plus, as a substitute of exhibiting all objects on the identical time, solely 4 most essential ones are displayed at first, and the others can be found on a separate web page. This an excellent instance price maintaining in thoughts.

Mobile view comparisons of the Allianz website

Nested accordions can work with sufficient distinction between every degree. Nevertheless, in case you have greater than three ranges of navigation, making it work with a little bit of indentation and numerous typographic kinds will turn into fairly troublesome.

Extra after leap! Proceed studying beneath ↓

Admittedly, many navigation menus on cellular aren’t accordions. As a result of every navigation part may include dozens and dozens of sub-navigation objects, it’s frequent to see the so-called slide-in menus, with navigation objects sliding in horizontally and presenting customers with a complete menu of all choices obtainable on that degree.

With that sample, fast jumps from one degree to a different are inconceivable, as customers all the time have to return to the earlier degree to maneuver ahead.

Three mobile views of the Unilever website showing one level of navigation at a time

Unilever shows just one degree of navigation at a time. As customers navigate additional down the rabbit gap, they’re offered with just one degree at a time. This does work effectively to suit all of the objects and all the degrees that a corporation may ever want. Nevertheless, if a consumer isn’t fairly certain the place to go, the invention of content material tends to be slower. Additionally, it’s not essentially clear the place the “Again” button will go to.

Screenshots of the navigation menu used on the Deutsche Post website

If we do use a slide-in menu, it’s a good suggestion to substitute a generic “Again” button with a extra contextual label, explaining to customers the place precisely they are going to be returning to. Deutsche Put up (pictured above) does simply that. Additionally, discover that the primary web page of the menu options among the prime duties on the location, in moreover to the slide-in menu.

The New England Journal of Medicine

Moreover, The New England Journal of Drugs provides some typographic distinction to every part, so it’s a bit extra apparent immediately what would open up one other part and what’s a hyperlink driving to a brand new web page. The truth is, we are able to go fairly far by simply making hyperlinks extra apparent but once more, as displayed within the instance of ADAC beneath.

Making links obvious and more visible on the ADAC website

It’s price noting that animated slide-ins will be fairly disorienting, distracting, and annoying for individuals who use the navigation rather a lot. Add to that the sluggish pace of content material discovery, a number of too many icons, and a bit too little distinction between the objects, and you’ve got a recipe for catastrophe.

A slide-in menu is an possibility however not often the very best one. It certainly doesn’t carry out in addition to accordions the place jumps between ranges are quicker and there’s not often a necessity to return. Nevertheless, accordions aren’t the one possibility we now have — particularly once we need to assist customers navigate between ranges quicker, not slower.

6. The Navigation Stack Works For Fast Jumps

As we transfer customers from one degree to a different, we additionally want to offer a method for them to maneuver again. However as a substitute of simply displaying a “Again” button, we are able to stack all of the earlier sections like a breadcrumb beneath one another. And so we get a navigation stack.

Viewing the Coolblue.nl website on mobile

On Coolblue, a Dutch retailer, as customers maintain exploring deeper ranges of navigation, they’ll all the time return all the best way to the earlier ranges that they’ve been coming from. This enables for quicker jumps between ranges, and is unquestionably a good suggestion when driving customers from one-page overlay to a different.

7. Use Curtain Sample To Present A number of Ranges of Navigation

It shouldn’t be an enormous revelation that the pace of navigation is at its most once we show navigation choices immediately. This is the reason we see giant buttons showing as giant clickable playing cards, filters, and backside sheets. Nevertheless, how can we use it in our navigation menus which barely have anywhere anyway?

LCFC split the page into two parts, one for each level of navigation
LCFC cut up the web page into two components, one for every degree of navigation.

We may make higher use of the obtainable house. For instance, what if cut up the display vertically, exhibiting one degree of navigation on every? Very very like a curtain that we’d pull to 1 facet of a window. That’s what LCFC (pictured above) does. To maneuver between ranges, we don’t want to shut any menus or return again in any respect — as a substitute, we click on on giant areas, transfer ahead, and discover.

And what should you want barely more room to your prolonged navigation labels? Nicely, the labels may wrap onto a number of traces, or we may scale back the width by changing textual content labels with icons (so long as they’re unambiguous). It won’t work for each challenge, nevertheless it appears to work for Ps (pictured beneath).

The Playstation website shows two levels of navigation at the same time

The whole first degree of navigation collapses into tabs; but transferring from one degree to the opposite doesn’t require any jumps again. You is likely to be questioning what the three vertical traces signify — ideally, one may drag away the pane, nevertheless it doesn’t appear to be working as anticipated, sadly.

The ESPN website shows two levels of navigation at the same time

ESPN makes use of a really comparable method however reduces the quantity of house for the primary degree to the minimal. It could possibly be a bit of bit bigger to forestall mistaps, however the concept is just about the identical: exhibiting two ranges of navigation on the identical time.

We may use the identical method in different contexts, corresponding to filtering. We show all filter attributes on the left, and permit customers to decide on the precise values for these filters within the second vertical pane. That’s what the filtering expertise seems like on Myntra, an Indian eCommerce retailer pictured beneath.

No slide-in-navigation in sight on the Myntra website

If some filters don’t slot in the suitable pane, customers can scroll to discover extra and even seek for a particular filter within the choice. In fact, the “Apply” button has to remain floating. It will be pretty to see the entire variety of outcomes on that button, too.

We may take it even additional, although. For instance, typically customers want to pick filters which can be related to them and outline their values within the subsequent step. In that case, we group all filters into a number of classes (and even sub-categories), after which current the entire classes and filters as sub-categories side-by-side.

Showing the FT Screener website on mobile with two panes, i.e. one for groups and one for specific filters.

With FT Screener, for instance, customers can add or change standards by exploring a number of ranges on the identical time — each the labels for teams and the filters residing inside these teams. As soon as a filter has been chosen, it’s added to the overview on the highest. That’s a easy filter constructor for stylish filtering on cellular.

The vertical cut up could possibly be used to shortly choose one essential current or make a single alternative. That might be the case for a language selector, for instance. We may set up all supported international locations and languages as playing cards or accordions, however they might additionally work as vertical tabs, because it’s finished within the footer of Oracle.

The Oracle website has a vertical-split menu for the country/region selection in the footer

This manner, we show solely choices which can be related to customers. They by no means must go to irrelevant sections or pages since they get a preview and might navigate away from it shortly, ought to they want to take action.

On the whole, the curtain sample works effectively with a fairly flat content material structure, however is troublesome to handle with three or extra ranges. It exhibits its strengths when the pace of navigation issues and when customers are more likely to leap between sections rather a lot.

It’s method quicker than slide-in-menus however much less versatile than accordions. Nonetheless, an excellent lil’ helper to bear in mind to make higher use of accessible house on cellular.

8. You May Not Want 3+ Ranges of Navigation

The curtain sample works effectively for 2 ranges of navigation, however you might need many extra ranges than that. In that case, it is likely to be a good suggestion to check if it truly must be this fashion. What should you present solely two or three ranges through your menu drawer, however then the remainder can be obtainable on standalone pages?

The University of Antwerp

The College of Antwerp will get away with only one degree of navigation on cellular. All of the sub-section exist on standalone pages as playing cards. The truth is, there are dozens of hyperlinks on every web page, however so long as the navigation is apparent, this is likely to be simply what you want.


Gov.uk isn’t a very small web site, nevertheless it options solely two predominant sections with loads of subsections in its navigation on cellular. Nevertheless, no third or fourth-level navigation is accessible from the menu drawer. All the pieces else is accessible through hyperlinks and playing cards on separate pages.

Korea Post

Korea Put up follows together with an fascinating twist to that concept. On faucet within the menu, it exhibits all objects residing on the second degree, but in addition routinely exhibits the choices from the third degree, too. Moreover, breadcrumbs embody drop-downs permitting customers to leap shortly between the siblings of every degree. Yow will discover out extra about that sample (sideways breadcrumbs) in Designing A Excellent Breadcrumbs UX.

Do you have to show greater than two ranges of navigation? Maybe it’s certainly vital, however chances are high excessive that it isn’t. So maybe it’s price testing a design that options solely two ranges. Moreover, we are able to add one other characteristic to it to make navigation even quicker.

Extra after leap! Proceed studying beneath ↓

9. Question Consumer’s Intent With Navigation Queries

Along with search and navigation, we may research among the most often visited pages or among the hottest duties, and present them instantly, as we noticed within the Deutsche Put up instance earlier above.

We may additionally add navigation queries to ask customers about their intent, and permit them to decide on a subject related to them. Give it some thought as a mini-search engine to your navigation, designed as a seamless autocomplete expertise. This may give customers steerage towards the objective and assist them navigate extra reliably.

Examples of the navigation being used on the Cosmos Direkt website as seen on mobile

Cosmos Direkt, a German insurance coverage firm, encompasses a <choose>-menu that enables customers to pick a specific job that they’d prefer to carry out on the location. The sort of navigation exists moreover to look and traditional navigation menu, however will increase the pace to relevance considerably.

Wrapping Up

Simply as a fast abstract, right here are some things to bear in mind when coping with advanced multi-level navigation:

  • Accordions work effectively, and for skilled customers, they work even when they’re nested.
  • Take away icons that you simply don’t want. Keep away from icons pointing in additional than two instructions.
  • Use the billboard sample to focus on prime duties that customers need to full on the location.
  • For nested navigation ranges, ensure that every degree is distinct (indentation + sort kinds).
  • Every time doable, make hyperlinks apparent by underlining them.
  • Slide-in-menus don’t carry out very effectively; they’re sluggish and distracting. Accordions are more likely to carry out higher.
  • Hold the navigation stack of the degrees that customers browsed via to permit for fast jumps.
  • Curtain navigation is quick! Think about using it when you may have two, or at most three, ranges of navigation.
  • Maybe we don’t want to indicate all ranges of navigation and as a substitute can deliver customers to the related web page to navigate from there.

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