Navigation has crucial significance for any website. If the navigation of your site is sophisticated and not user-friendly enough, your content has no chances to be read by the users. As a rule, navigation menus are located in the most visible website sections, where visitors can immediately notice them. So, your navigation may be the first thing the users interact with entering your site.
As you know, a good first impression can work wonders, so, you’d better take good care of your navigation. We’d dare say even more: the development of web navigation interface that maximizes usability is still one of the central web design issues. Major requirements to navigation are easiness of use and intuitiveness. Its main goal is to help the users find the information they are looking for quickly and almost without thinking.
Frankly speaking, with such restrictions it’s rather difficult to invent something completely new, that’s why most of the designers prefer to place navigation links at the most expected places – either in the header on top of the site or in the left sidebar. This way it won’t take the visitors long to understand menu structure and find out how it works. There is nothing bad in using the time-tested methods, but menu shouldn’t be too predictable and boring.
By the way, if we’ve mentioned standard navigation design techniques, it would be logical to revise them here in order to make sure that all of us think about the same things.
We are not going to diminish the importance of quality content and welcoming design, but easy navigation is like oxygen for our lungs, absolutely vital for efficient browsing.
How many clicks does it take a visitor to get to any page of your site? If their number is more than three – it’s too many; your layout needs a good in-depth rearrangement. Below we compiled some simple tips that will lead you to really efficient navigation.
In general, today’s web design tends towards clean, minimal layouts which couldn’t help affecting website navigation. Plus total responsiveness of all websites to provide their perfect rendering over a wide range of mobile devices also influenced navigation solutions. Developers are inclined to stick and hidden menus. The first case is great because it keeps the necessary links before customers’ eyes all the time. The second variant lets to save the space on the page, which is a crucial moment for devices with smaller screens.
Yet, creative approach is always preferential. Everything that stands out from the crowd is better remembered by the users, making them share their exciting experience with friends and come back to your website again and again. Under this text, you will find the examples of uncommon navigation solutions implemented into live, operating websites. Their aim is to prove you that there always is space for creativity even under the most restricted conditions.
This website has extremely simple, user-friendly navigation. Do you see the search bar in the center of your screen? Just type in hashtags or username here or you can search for photos clicking the popular tags in the bottom of the page.
When you enter this website, main navigation bar is in the bottom of the page right under the large photo of young, pretty, smiling girl sitting on the beach. But when you start to scroll down it moves to the very top of the page and takes a fixed position to be constantly before the readers’ eyes. As you move lower, you get more navigation possibilities: you can open and close text blocks, watch videos, zoom photos in and out and even take virtual tours.
Do you see any signs of usual navigation on this site? We don’t see them either. To read the content you just scroll down, that’s all, even a child can cope.
The website is very interactive. Every time you hover or click something that looks like navigation menu, arrows, icons and so on you discover new information encouraging you to explore further.
So, what is so special about this website? Firstly, you have the possibility to hide main menu bar if you are not going to use it. And please note these small triangles on your right. We believe that this can be considered a rather creative way of navigating a website.
This website offers you multiple navigation opportunities. You can move up and down, right and left, click the combs to watch videos or read the information or just use hidden vertical sidebar navigation on your left.
Try to scroll through the pages of this site, you will be surprised by smooth, nontrivial navigation.
Just look at this square menu icon appearing here and there on top and in the bottom of the page. Hover over it and main menu will fly out immediately.
Have you ever seen the navigation looking like plumed dandelion seeds, partially blown off by the slight breeze? Sound very poetically and looks not less impressive.
Here when you click the menu icon, you get to the menu page where there is nothing except the items to focus at.
This website uses photos as menu items. Looks very appealing, isn’t it?
Here, apart from the possibility to access main menu clicking the icon in the right top corner of the page, its points are scattered among the other blocks in the content area.
One more variation of menu taking the whole page, this time its horizontal version.
Bright yellow block with menu icon and company name in the center of page bottom draws users’ attention especially when it becomes bigger on click.
Shake virtual hands to enter the website! A smart move isn’t it?
Nice try, the navigation links are placed right beside the artworks presentation.
The authors of this site thoroughly approached to navigation. Actually each element on the page leads somewhere. If footer menu and images occupying all content area are not enough for you, click the yellow triangle on your left and access sidebar menu together with search bar.
It’s a great idea to tell the story of each project in your portfolio instead of just featuring images. This speaking examples have all necessary links and buttons for the viewers ready for deeper research.
Sticky menu containing only simple, intuitive icons looks clean and current.
You can use the arrows and navigate up and down, right and left, but what was really unexpected on this rather minimalistic black and white website is its rainbow menu appearing on click to the relevant icon.
This icon-based sticky menu done in soft colors is so lovable, we are sure that site visitors have the same opinion.
Rather fairy website with not less magic navigation. Click the “Find out more” circle and see what will happen.
Sidebar navigation of this website is simple, yet rather stylish. Menu items are crossed out on hovering.
We couldn’t help featuring this website, just look at these framed green blocks. You can navigate through Matthew’s portfolio with their help.
Scroll down and you’ll see how fixed position footer menu items slide apart giving the space to page numbers. Looks very creative.
We hope you liked our inspiring examples of unusual navigation. Now it’s time to make a long story short. If you are thinking about your website’s navigation optimization, here are main pieces of advice to memorize.
The users are VIP persons in cyber space and everything is done for their comfort.
Intuitive design is overriding.
Unique, harmonious sites succeed.
Main theses of this post are as follows: we just listed some working, standard suggestions here. Yes, they are tested, but you should not be afraid to experiment and our examples vividly demonstrate that very often the most daring trial-trips end up with wonderful discoveries. So, step away from common guides, but keep in mind that good navigation should address visitors’ questions and concerns and do this quickly and easily. Maybe you will find the new way of lowering websites abandonment rating. As usually, you are welcome to share all your thoughts on the topic in the comment section.