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Our application is currently using tabs for its sub-navigation. The problem is, on some pages, there are more than 6 tabs; some of its labels are long, so we have had to shorten them.

One idea I have is to switch to using (left) sidebar navigation. The issue with this is some pages can be quite wide where horizontal real estate is needed - particularly pages with dashboard graphs and tables with several columns (in some pages, horizontal scrolling had to be implemented for tables with several columns).

I'm thinking of allowing the sidebar to be collapsible, but I don't think this addresses the core issue, because in cases where the user doesn't collapse the sidebar, we're still cramped for space.

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  • Sidebars give me migraines. Your mileage may vary, but having to scroll one element alongside another that isn't scrolling, or in front of another that isn't scrolling, will often trigger my migraines. It mayhelp a bit if Page Down works, and doesn't trigger smooth scrolling, and if you use a clear separator, and/or contrasting colors.
    – Marja E
    Sep 5 at 14:59
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It's always best to avoid making the user scroll horizontally. Without seeing your UI, it's hard to tell if the six horizontal tabs should be replaced by vertical ones - if your users find the horizontal tabs useful, it might be better to leave them alone.

It sounds like the more urgent problem to address is the cramped, information-heavy dashboards and tables. You might want to take a look at what information each user role truly needs to perform their tasks, and remove the information that's less useful (you can move it to a detail view). You could also start with good, streamlined defaults for each role, and let the user add the columns/ widgets that they need themselves.

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