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I'm working on a web application whose pages have a header which is always visible at the top and a sidebar fixed to the left. The sidebar isn't featured on all pages, but where it is featured it scrolls independently of the content of the page.

Should the scrollbar for the page take up the full height of the page, making it sit alongside the header, or should the scrollbar only appear alongside the content?

Full-page Scrollbar

Full-page scrollbar

Inline Scrollbar

Inline scrollbar

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It depends who "owns" the scrollbar.

  1. If the scroll bar is a control that you are adding to the page, it would make more sense to align it with the text area where it is responsible for scrolling.
  2. If it is the scroll bar on the side of the actual browser, the first option is fine, since the browser is responsible for the entire page area (even if you have some magic in there to always keep the header on top).

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