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I am in the process of prototyping an application for delivering news content. Our first platform will be the iPad (along with web) but other tablets will follow.

Decomposing the application into it's more simplest form, user will want to

  • Choose categories
  • Be presented with the stories of the chosen category.

We are considering two possible ways of designing this:

  1. Have a horizontal, scrollable strip on top with all the categories, and fill the rest of screen real-estate with stories content.
  2. Have a vertical sidebar on the right side of the tablet (cause most people hold the tablet with the left hand and use the right to do stuff) that's normally hidden but can be exposed by touching a button on the top-right corner.

We want the whole UX to be a natural process but don't really want to go the Flipboards way (flipping pages etc).

So what do you think? Which one of the two would you chose? Do you have any other suggestions?

Thanks a lot!

UPDATE I found this article to cover much of the information I was looking for. http://uxmovement.com/navigation/top-navigation-vs-left-navigation-which-works-better/

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

There are 2 solutions that I feel would fulfill your requirements...

  1. Side bar nav (like you mentioned)

sidebar nav

Then another view where the content fills the screen

nav up top

  1. Horizontal scroll - to navigate through categories, Vertical scroll - to navigate through thumbnails and content summaries.

grid layout

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+1 I like your second horizontal scroll solution. ;) –  Matt Rockwell Aug 15 '11 at 17:45
    
Your horizontal scrolling solutions is much like Pulse/Flux and I wouldn't go that way. The reason: We layout content based on relevance in some way that we can afford having rows of statically sized cells. I like the first approach better, but I would like some solid facts on why having a sidebar is better than having a horizontal tab strip on top to upvote your answer :) Thank you! –  Thanos Aug 15 '11 at 19:40
2  
Well one fact is that is is part of the standard GUI which means it will be intuitive to the user. –  jonshariat Aug 15 '11 at 19:42
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The NPR Music app for the iPhone does a great job at handling a situation like this. It has a small vertical strip on the left side with categories which is scrollable. The content (individual articles/pages) for each category then scrolls left to right:

enter image description here

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This is however entirely different from our case. We only want the stories of the chosen category to show up rather than split our main view into various categories. Again, this is only a question of how to layout the category selection part of the interface. Thanks for your first answer Matt. –  Thanos Aug 15 '11 at 15:52
    
@Matt Rockwell - I don't have an iPhone (gasp!) and am not in the US (double gasp!) so can't try this out. So is it a vertical scrollbar where you can scroll up/down to see different categories? And then how do you you scan across to see the different stories in each category? Do you flick the row left/right (anywhere in the row) or do you click in the section of the up/down scrollbar bit? [It reminds me of one of those 'million recipe' cookbooks that is really three sections each with 100 pages.] edit: I'm still interested despite Thanos' response... –  Roger Attrill Aug 15 '11 at 15:53
    
@Roger - Yes you can scroll up and down to see more categories (all content moves) and you can flick left and right to scroll content on each categorical content "track". –  Matt Rockwell Aug 15 '11 at 15:56
    
@Thanos - So what if you took this a step further and had the categories be click-able so that then you would only see content from that category? That way, you would incorporate a preview of what content is in each category, as is done on the NPR app. –  Matt Rockwell Aug 15 '11 at 17:08
    
@Matt, like i described on the title of my question, this design should apply to a table with a descent screen real estate. Although your suggestion much likes fits a mobile phone app (like NPRs) and I really like it we want the stories laid out in a certain way that doesn't allow us to use fixed size rows/columns. I'd love to hear your feedback on whether it's better to have a sidebar or a horizontal tab strip on top for the categories. thanx a lot for your feedback, I really appreciate it. –  Thanos Aug 15 '11 at 19:44
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