The Navigation Treasure Trove: 37 Menu Usability Resources

Navigation can make or break the user experience on a website. If users can’t find what they’re looking for — or if they can’t use the menu — they’re likely to get frustrated and give up on the site.

Check out this example of a user struggling with an unwieldy navigation experience:

Ugly or confusing navigation can certainly make you miss out on conversions — but it also impacts the overall customer perception of your company. If visitors have a frustrating time trying to navigate your site, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to delight your customers. And delighted customers are the ones who will make multiple purchases, leave positive reviews, and become advocates for your brand.

If you’re interested in improving your navigation usability, here are 37 resources to help you create a great experience for your users.

Categories:

General Menu Usability

5 Expert Tips

Five Expert Tips for Improving Your Navigation Menu

This article gives a great overview of some common-sense (but often underused) guidelines for menu design. Learn what the experts say about menu placement, use of visual information, and more.

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Hover Menus

Why Hover Menus Do Users More Harm than Good

Many well-intentioned websites use drop-down menus that expand when the user hovers over them. This article explains why this tends to cause frustration and confusion.

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Drop-Down Menus

Designing Drop-Down Menus: Examples and Best Practices

Drop-down menus get a lot of criticism for hindering usability, but sometimes they’re the best option. These tips will show you how to use drop-down menus for good, not evil.

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Sticky Menus

Sticky Menus Are Quicker to Navigate

“Sticky” or fixed navigation menus can make a huge difference in a website’s usability. This post shows the pros and cons of switching to a sticky menu, along with some surprising statistics.

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Hold the Hamburger

Hold the Hamburger

More and more websites are using the “hamburger” (the ubiquitous three-line symbol for a menu) to save space on the screen, but hiding the navigation options isn’t always the best idea — especially for a desktop site.

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Mega Menus

Mega-Menus Gone Wrong

Large drop-down menus can easily fall into the trap of giving the user too many options or presenting the options in a confusing way. This article shows you what not to do if you’re using a drop-down menu.

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UX Flows

UX Flows: Navigation

This post discusses navigation from a UX designer’s perspective and shows some creative alternatives to the traditional drop-down menu.

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Top vs. Left

Top Navigation vs. Left Navigation: Which Works Better?

Not sure of the best location for your nav bar? Learn about scanning, visibility, and priority to decide which option is best for your site.

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Designing Winning Navigation

Designing a Winning Navigation Menu: Ideas and Inspirations

Browse through this collection of best practices, resources, and examples to get inspired to create a highly usable menu.

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What Really Matters

What Really Matters in Navigation Bar Usability

Take a look at the results from these real-life nav menu A/B tests. You might be surprised at what a difference a small change in copy or functionality can make.

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Mobile Menu Usability

Best Practices Mobile

Best Practices for Navigation on the Mobile Web

With mobile web traffic continuing to rise, creating a usable mobile experience is more important than ever. This article gives some basic guidelines on building menus for the small screen.

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Responsive Design Menus

Responsive Design Menus: Problems and Proposals

Responsive design is a popular way to make a website work on multiple devices, but creating an effective menu within your responsive site can be a big challenge. Here are some ideas for building a responsive menu that works.

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Ecommerce Navigation

11 Ways to Improve the Navigation on Your Mobile Site

For e-commerce sites, a bad mobile experience equals a loss of sales. From one-click checkout to the 44×44 rule for links and buttons, this is a list of things retailers can do right now to make their mobile navigation more usable.

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Mobile Nav and Great UX

Mobile Navigation Menus and Great User Experience

This article shows how to make good use of the limited space on a mobile screen without confusing users. It also includes some user-friendly alternatives to the “hamburger” navigation symbol.

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Mobile Menu A/B Test

Mobile Menu A/B Tested: Hamburger Not the Best Choice?

What does mobile menu usability have to do with quantum physics? And is it better to use an icon or a word to label the menu? Find out in this post.

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Responsive Menus

Responsive Menus: Enhancing Navigation on Mobile Websites

There’s more to mobile design than layout and speed. This article takes a deep dive into improving navigation — code included!

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Designing App Menus

Designing Your Menus for Optimal Usability

If you’re looking to improve the menu on your app, you’ve come to the right place. This post gives pointers on designing menus for mobile game apps.

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Side Drawer Nav

UX Designers: Side Drawer Navigation Could Be Costing You Half Your User Engagement

The co-founder of TV app Zeebox shares the surprising result of what happened when his app switched from a top navigation to a hidden side drawer alternative.

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Testing and Analytics

Tree Testing

Tree Testing for Effective Navigation

Tree testing is a great way to test your site structure. This article explains tree testing, using a company intranet as an example.

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Card Sorting

Using Card Sorting to Test Information Architecture

Card sorting allows you to find out how users would naturally expect a site to be organized. Learn when, why, and how to use this method of testing.

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Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop

Optimal Workshop offers tools for tree testing and card sorting. There are even free plans for folks who want to do smaller studies.

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Books

Designing Web Navigation

Designing Web Navigation by James Kalbach

This widely-respected bestseller discusses design principles, development techniques, and real examples for creating a usable navigation experience.

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Card Sorting

Card Sorting by Donna Spencer

This book takes an in-depth look at how to run a card sorting test, from planning the study to analyzing the results.

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Courses and Presentations

Organizing Mobile Web Experiences

Organizing Mobile Web Experiences

Popular presenter Luke W. shows you realistic solutions for organizing your site’s navigation on a mobile screen.

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Website Navigation Presentation

Website Navigation – How to Get It Right for Customers

Check out the 9 tips in this quick presentation that you should keep in mind when designing your navigation experience.

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jQuery Video Course

Create Navigation Menus with jQuery

This intermediate-level online video course will get you up to speed with building menus using jQuery.

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Design Inspiration

50 Beautiful Menus

50 Beautiful and User-Friendly Navigation Menus

From super-simple to highly artistic, these menus have one thing in common: they’re very easy to understand and use.

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Responsive Mobile Inspirations

20+ Responsive Mobile Navigation Inspirations

These responsive mobile sites are shining examples of what you can do with a navigation menu on the small screen.

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User-Friendly Navigation

45 User Friendly Navigation Menu Examples

These websites prove that you don’t have to sacrifice creativity to make a menu user-friendly.

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Unique and Functional Examples

31 Super Unique and Functional Website Navigation Menus

The navigation menu can play an important role in establishing a website’s character, as these examples do.

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Vertical Navigation

10 Examples of Beautiful Vertical Navigation to Inspire You

Design fans will appreciate the aesthetic appeal of these vertical nav menus.

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Code & Tutorials

Bootstrap Navigation

Navbar Template for Bootstrap

The Navbar component in the Bootstrap framework gives you options for static and fixed (sticky) navigation bars.

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CSS Navigation Bar

CSS Navigation Bar

Learn how to build simple navigation bars using CSS in this beginner demo.

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Floating Navigation

Creating a Floating Navigation Menu

Like the idea of using a sticky menu on your site? This tutorial will walk you through the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript you need to get started.

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Menu-Aim

Menu-Aim jQuery Plugin

This plugin makes hover dropdown menus more usable by allowing the user to move the cursor to a submenu without accidentally collapsing it.

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Open Source CSS

38 Free Open Source CSS Dropdown Navigation Menus

Want to copy and paste some CSS code rather than building your menu from scratch? Here are 38 basic menus that you can customize to suit your site.

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100 Tutorials

100 Great CSS Menu Tutorials

Follow along with any of these 100 tutorials that will teach you how to create beautiful CSS menus.

Read More »

 

Have a resource to add to the list?

    If you have another useful navigation resource to share, please link to it in the comments below.

    If you found this article helpful, check out our Form Usability Treasure Trove and the SlideShare version of this article too!

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    About Hannah Alvarez

    Hannah is a Marketing Associate at UserTesting. As a former nonprofit professional, she's dedicated to making the world - and the web - a better place. In her free time, she likes making things and going on adventures.

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    • jencardello

      Great collection!
      Nielsen Norman Group offers two courses on IA an Navigation at the Usability Week conferences:
      http://www.nngroup.com/courses/ia-1/
      http://www.nngroup.com/courses/ia-2/

      • Hannah Alvarez

        Awesome! Are they available remotely or on-demand, too? Or do you have to attend in person?

        • jencardello

          These are full-day, in-person courses offered about 13 times per year.

    • Dieter Kirchner

      Wow, so much info – great!!

      • Hannah Alvarez

        Thanks, Dieter. Glad you found it helpful!

    • theresaneil

      Thanks for the great set of resources, but I strongly contest the one called Side Drawer Could be Costing You Half Your User Engagement. They picked the wrong pattern for their app! These test results aren’t relevant for apps with heirarchial navigation.

      • Hannah Alvarez

        Oooh, that’s interesting. What do you think they should have done instead?

    • Rajan

      nice collection!

      • Hannah Alvarez

        Thanks, Rajan! Happy to hear you enjoyed it.