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Should you use a fixed navigation bar?

By Design, Website

In 2014 the fixed navigation bar or sticky menu’s are quickly becoming a typical trend in web design. The concept behind the fixed navigation bar is that it improves the user experience, providing easy access to the prominent pages throughout your browsing. While there is no questioning the functionality of this feature there are many who would criticise the fixed bar. Complaints tend to penalise the navigation bar for misleading a reader’s attention. As many of you will know immediately drawing attention to certain aspects of a site is paramount to it’s success.

Therefore it is easy to see that the dilemma here is not quite as simple as it may have seemed. The impact a fixed navigation bar will have on your user’s experience is perhaps mostly based on preference then? I would argue that in fact the answer to whether you should use the fixed navigation bar or not depends on the website you are tailoring for. So then, to be able to discern whether the navigation bar is for you we’ll have to look more closely at the pros and cons for this matter.

Navigation Bar Pros

User Experience

…or UX Design, when plowing through vast amounts of information it becomes easy to see why a fixed navigation tool can save your web visitors much needed time. When finding websites for the first time people are not afraid of making the decision they would rather read about this topic elsewhere within seconds of finding the page. We all know this however the user experience is almost as important if your site has clunky or unclear design people will not hesitate to search elsewhere. With this in mind the value of a fixed navigation bar is clear.

Record browse times

You may not think that access to various sites at all times would save you much browsing time but in a recent study by Smashing Magazine reported on average people browse 22% faster. That’s an extra 22% of time spent of people actually looking at your content rather than digging through your site. When pages are packed with content you can bet that a fixed navigation bar will earn you those brownie points from your users.

This is particularly true with the rise of flat design in 2014, when long empty space is so prevalent on the internet a fixed navigation bar can save your users a lot of time.

Navigation Bar Cons

Overcrowding hurts UX

If your site is overflowing with content in a relatively small space you may want to reconsider whether a fixed navigation bar is for you. While having easy access to the rest of your site is typically useful in certain circumstances it could be hurting your UX. Complicated websites may look visually impressive but nothing is worth making your website difficult to digest, especially when competing with the simplicity of flat design. Also when a website has minimal scrolling the fixed navigation bar may feel pointless and thus wasting space, possibly irritating visitors.


There are a couple of other issues which can emerge from using a navigation bar unnecessarily besides aggravating your web traffic. While it is uncommonly seen a fixed navigation bar can be difficult to translate onto mobile format. Additionally implementing a fixed navigation bar will increase load times of your page thus it is very important to consider whether this will actually help the web traffic which you have worked hard to achieve.

All of these problems need to be considered for your website. Hopefully these points will help clear up whether a fixed navigation bar is for you.

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Font layouts can make the reader feel good

By Design

Research by psychologist Kevin Larson into how font and design layout affect our emotions produced some interesting results.

“1. Readers felt bad when reading a poorly designed piece of literature that was often expressed with a frown – not what you want your clients to do!
2. Readers felt better when reading copy from a good layout and felt like it took less time to read.”

The conclusion we draw from this is that for brochure, advertising and leaflet design a well-designed layout will communicate your company’s messages more clearly and powerfully.

If you need help making your marketing literature more effective please call us today on 01273 328877.