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Navigation at the bottom on mobile is quite popular. However, it hasn't been adopted on desktops much. Is there a reason other than users know to look at the top?

Obviously, for a government or big corporation website, it makes sense to have the navigation in the usual place. What about a 5-page developer portfolio? Does it interfere with accessibility or usability? If the page was scrollable would it be best to hide the navigation?

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I'll elaborate on the explanation here.

Why navigation at the bottom on mobile is quite popular? Because we're holding the phone at the bottom and it's easy to interact elements at the bottom. Interesting read, here

So, the bottom navigation has been historical, so did the upper navigation for the desktop/laptop. It's just easy to read something from top-to-bottom and left-to-right. It's been a de-facto standard for humans to consume something from top to bottom. And people are not really reading everything in the webpage(if not mandatory), people scan over your content, they skim over. So, they might miss your navigation at the bottom, because they're not used to it. And when something happens for people which is not used to be, they and us presume it as a bad experience.

Is there a reason other than users know to look at the top?

^ Actually, there are some popular pattern for user's reading or scanning trajectory. One is F-pattern.

F pattern for scanning

This pattern is very common too, Z-pattern

Z Pattern for scanning

There are few other patterns too, this is a good read

Does it interfere with accessibility or usability?

^ From the explanation above, yeah it somehow interferes with accessibility or usability.

If the page was scrollable would it be best to hide the navigation?

^ If the navigation is not important after the page being scrolled or if you want to exclusively make the focus on the content otherwise, it's okay to hide the navigation. Best is, if you test that design with the real users.

So, it's not like there are some restrictions to use bottom navigation for desktop, in fact you can do that. But if you care about the user at maximum level, you might choose the other option. Even you have another option for navigation which is side-wise, although that might depend on other context too.

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  • Great Explanation. However, I want to add 2 things you might want to consider. ▓ 1. What if the navigation bar is fixed while scrolling and has enough contrast to stand out from the other elements? I guess people will easily see it and get used to it. ▓ 2. We have places where the navigation is placed at the bottom in desktop and most people have no difficulty using it. Windows Taskbar to name one.
    – Shahriar
    Oct 25, 2021 at 8:33

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