I am currently working on a project to redesign a large organisation's intranet site. At present the project team is debating whether the site's static menu should appear below or above the banner. Just to be clear, by 'static menu' I mean this menu will appear on every page throughout the entire intranet site. It is also a hover menu in that a sub-menu appears when hovering over some of the options. The banner, however, will most likely change depending on the content being viewed.
Below are some mockups for illustrative purposes.
Option 1: Static menu appears below banner
Option 2: Static menu appears above banner
Note: Above images are mockups only.
At this point, the general consensus (in a team of five) is that Option 1 (the design with the banner above the static menu) looks better, while the other option doesn't seem to look quite right.
However, there is disagreement on whether the first option is the overall better approach from a UX perspective. The thinking goes like this:
The site is being designed for an organisation of 1,500 staff. The organisation is broken up into branches and these are also divided into many teams. As a result, there will be branch pages, team pages, and many other pages (e.g. L&D pages, News pages, etc) that will have their own banner and menu structure.
Opting for Option 1 creates the following issues:
- Level 2 and below pages will be restricted to only having the option of using side navigation bars for their own menu structures (as using a top navigation bar will look strange if it's immediately below the main static menu)
- Changing the banner to suit the individual page may be counter-intuitive as staff would also expect the menu below it to change (which it won't because it's a static menu across the entire site)
- On the other hand, if a decision was made to keep the main banner static as well, then this reduces screen real estate for lower level pages and/or increases the amount of vertical scrolling that may be required
- As branch and team pages will be maintained by their own staff who have the necessary permissions to edit those pages, it's felt that this design would make their job (and therefore their user experience) not as pleasant as it restricts how they can layout their own content
Opting for Option 2 creates the following issues:
- the fact that some feel it just doesn't look as good (and for some it looks strange)
- as the static menu contains a hover 'sub-menu' for some options, it's felt that these sub-menus appearing over the banner when being utilised will look odd
In summary, Option 1 is seen as looking better and more natural, while Option 2 seems to be more functional and the one that provides more flexibility. The disagreement is over which option is better overall from a UX point of view, not just for end users, but also for those with the responsibility of editing content.
Which option provides the best user experience overall, and why?
Are there any other approaches that may better suit this environment?