Mobile navigation is a crucial vehicle of the entire mobile app design since it is aimed at solving users’ usability problems. Therefore, creating good navigation is a must-do if you want to enhance the user experience and create a smooth overall customer journey. Due to the limitations on the mobile screens, the best mobile menus design usually use established patterns such as menus collapsed by default and hidden behind “hamburger” icons or “click on the left-side menu icon” and it slides aka side menus.
However, the architecture of the app can be designed with a different approach applying your own interaction pattern that will guide your users in the right direction. There are a lot of mobile navigation patterns to choose from. In this article, we are going to cover the navigation inspiration, highlight perks and situations when to use them and provide you with navigation inspiration.
There is always a challenge for designers to provide users with smooth navigation accessibility and at the same time not to occupy too much space that will obscure the content and lead to frustration. So what should a good app menu do?
Various navigation patterns are aimed at solving particular usability problems, and usage of a certain pattern depends on the app requirement. Let’s examine a few basic navigation patterns to design the best navigation menu and outline situations when to use each.
Despite the fact that usage of the hamburger menu is disputable among designers, it has already won the trust of millions of users worldwide. The hamburger mobile menus allow saving screen space and revealing the navigation only if a user takes an action. Yeah, at first glance it may seem a wonderful option for creating comprehensive navigation under a three-line icon allowing users to focus on the current page with sticky CTAs.
However, hamburger UI menus may be difficult to discover and are hard to reach on mobile. Due to its low discoverability users tend to omit essential and primary functions since they just do not think at all to open a hamburger menu. While for one user a “hamburger” may be a navigation drawer, for another one it may be confusing and be understood as a “three unknown lines” representing a list. Still, there is a way to improve hamburger menu usability. Let’s go through cases when it is worth using hamburgers for your app menu design and main tips on how to make them better.
As opposed to the hamburger menu pattern, which aims at saving more space for content, full-screen navigation is aimed at accommodating all the navigation elements on the home screen. You might ask: Why do designers offer such patterns for their clients when establishing navigation? The answer is to ensure cohesion and simplicity.
There are apps that are designed to provide users with categorized items that have a certain direction or knowledge-based apps where consumption of excessive amounts of information is worth categorizing.
The bottom bar menus are the type of navigation bar design and basically are sticky navigation options that are fixed on the bottom of the app providing the users with easy access to the main features. With visual cues such as icons, labels, etc. a user knows exactly where he is at a glance. Despite what page you are on currently, bottom bars are pinned, single-click marks. However, this pattern has its drawbacks due to the limited amount of navigation options.
Being located within a thumb zone, the bar menu allows reaching the navigation items once held in one hand. It is worth mentioning that 49 percent of users hold their phones in one hand which means that when designing an app it is recommended to take into consideration the position of a user’s thumb. Even when a user holds a phone in two hands, the bottom bar navigation will be a good option. Take the example of Instagram where all core functions are fixed at the bottom for easy navigation.
Thanks to a highly visual and customizable nature, UI cards are purposed to display top-level menu content. Combining different elements such as photo, text, coins, etc. card-based navigation allows coherent content organization for easy interaction. As opposed to standard navigation approaches, card-based navigation excludes excessive confusion of subcategories offering a user to be goal-focused.
One of the benefits of UI cards is that they are responsive and can be easily adapted to different screen sizes. One more interesting fact is that swiping is a common feature of card-based navigation, thus, it may turn a pleasant function for users since they permanently have to take actions which makes them highly interacted with the app. There is also gesture-based navigation that has similar functionality. For instance, the Tinder app where users swipe right and left the cards intuitively when they like or dislike someone.
Since people seek out information quickly, cards can be a good solution: they are easy for the eyes, have visual aesthetics, and have flexible layout formats. All these are valuable for users since great user experiences center around them.
Representing the primary function of the screen, the floating action button triggers the user to take the most appropriate action for this app. For instance, music players mostly possess this floating button so that users can easily navigate through music space. Among the most applied actions are share, favorite, create, add, start a process.
Being a natural cue to users, the floating button helps prioritize the most important action. A big plus is that this button occupies little space. However, even if the floating action button is attractive and colorful, it can distract the user from other actions.
Let’s summarize the above-mentioned patterns and tips to help you create the best mobile app navigation for your customers!
Hamburger menu or bottom bar navigation? Full-size screen navigation or maybe floating action buttons? We have outlined the basic navigation options available for your mobile menu design. Though there are many more alternatives offering innovative approaches toward mobile navigation design patterns. Leave a comment if you’d like to read more about best practices and new solutions to mobile navigation.
Aligning with new trends our professionals are always testing new ways to deliver product ideas to customers in a more customizable and attractive manner and at the same time remain conservative and listen to users’ needs. Anyway, in order to achieve a tangible result, your mobile app has to be tested, tested, and once again tested.
Contact us and our designers will help you pick up the best pattern for your mobile app navigation.
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