Should the dashboard left navigation be collapsible or should it remain expanded at all times? What are the pros & cons? In addition to this, how does it affect conversion rate?

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Note: This is just reference image!!

  • 1
    Can you show a screenshot of what you mean, or how many items / sections you need? Is this a navigational sidebar? Aug 10, 2017 at 6:14
  • Yes, it is regarding navigational sidebar.
    – NB4
    Aug 10, 2017 at 6:35
  • @AdamPlocher screenshot is added for reference.
    – NB4
    Aug 10, 2017 at 6:40
  • I think your question is too general. For what type of application? What type of users use the application and what is their goal? For desktop only or for tablets? And another thing - no one can predict how your particular conversion rate will be affected by collapsible menu's. Please, re-frame your question so its more specific. Aug 10, 2017 at 8:49
  • @KristiyanLukanov Let me make it clear. In our application, we allow the user to look out/scout for some information. We also provide sector reports, news etc. It has to be responsive.
    – NB4
    Aug 10, 2017 at 9:20

3 Answers 3


Always keep in mind that an application can be used thousands of users on hundreds of screen sizes, screen resolutions and browsers.

Therefore, even though side navigation menu in a Dashboard application is highly important, the users SHOULD be able to collapse it. Maybe not all the way, refer the screenshot below.

Expand - collapse side nav

  • Does it affect conversion rate?
    – NB4
    Aug 10, 2017 at 7:05
  • It shouldn't. If anything, it's an added feature that improves usability when done right. If the application reads the viewport size keeps the menu expanded for large screens by default while collapsed for smaller screens then it comes as a handy addition Aug 10, 2017 at 7:08

It definitely depends firstly on the content itself (content on the right side). Let's consider why a user needs to collapse the left navigation;

  • The content is crowded and user wants to focus only on content,
  • The screen size is small and user needs space.

In fact, both of the reasons are related to "space". If your users need space, then you should give it to them. If not, then firstly try without collapsing feature and gather feedback from your users.

Collapsing feature is sometimes complex as some navigation patterns are nested and need attention to create a usable interaction, so why to make effort when your users do not need it?

So, it's better to take action based on your user's need. Then go on taking new actions as user needs evolve over time.


Space is a very general opinion and we should not decide on expanding or collapsing based on space. The real decider in this situation is Content on the sidebar.

Questions to ask are:

How important is the content on the side bar? How frequently does the user use the options displayed on the sidebar?

High Frequency and important: You know that it should not be collapsed and always kept handy on screen.

Low Frequency but important: It can appear collapsed. A user will find his way to menu.

Low Frequency and additional option: Keep collapsed and if you ask me, I would not bother adding the option at all.

Let me know if this helps.

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