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I am new to web development but always had an interest of doing things to enhance UX. For a new project, instead of having a horizontal header with a navigation menu i thought of having a vertical menu about 210px wide in width and height of 600px.

The homepage looks great but for other important pages such as the product, services, about us pages, the sidebar takes away horizontal space therefore requiring me to take away width from the 960px wide container to display content in.

Being new to this, I am not sure if it's a good idea. Any advice on how to go about this? Any websites that come to mind that have a similar design that I am looking to accomplish?

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Some previous answers may help: ux.stackexchange.com/questions/39511/… ux.stackexchange.com/questions/23746/… –  Keiwes Jul 26 '13 at 16:53
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3 Answers

Both TotemFlare's and Chris's suggestions are valid. The question is for what platform are you designs intended: desktop, tablet, or mobile. If the sidebar navigation is for desktop, you have more control over maybe hiding the sidebar navigation on selection. Tablet represents another set of challenges like do you plan to show the sidebar as swimlane or some other form of content interaction.

Mobile is basically designing for hierarchical layouts.

Also, are your project across all the devices? You'll find your answer when you consider the scope of the project.

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Was there a reason you decided to have a sidebar menu?

As TotemFlare described, sidebar menus are great for content driven sites like articles, blogs, ecommerce, etc. Mainly because they help you browse more efficiently and further assist you in finding other content.

They are also used quite often for web apps such as zendesk and mailchimp to provide multiple layers of navigation.

However, if you're sacrificing screen real estate to simply have a cool looking sidebar menu, it's up to you to decide the benefits of having such a navigation.

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From a pure UX standpoint that type of menu can be justified if you expect your visitors to:

  • browse multiple sections during the same visit
  • rely heavily on the navigation to find what they're looking for.

Documentation and wiki sites are good examples of this where linking is key.

I think it comes down to is worth using that much space for your menu? Knowing that even if accessibility is important, content is king and related content immediately available is always a solid asset.

Hope that helps.

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