This is what I mean: screenshot

The idea is that one navigation is the main one and the other one a second level.

Is it a bad idea? If so, why?

Also, which navigation should be the main one? I'm inclined to make the top nav the main one and the sidebar the second level, so that if it's in fixed position (see the previous screen scrolled down here) the user can scroll down and still move through the same application module without having to scroll all the way up.

The only downside I view in using the top nav is that it doesn't scale a lot (especially for back-office applications which could have lots and lots of modules), but I think we can handle it.

  • It's only a bad idea if all navigation could be effectively handled in a single level. Top bar for top level navigation and sidebar for secondary/context sensitive/"drill down" navigation is standard.
    – Ben Brocka
    Dec 23, 2011 at 18:05

3 Answers 3


If you don't have so much link put them all in top navbar, it prevents from user confusion.

If you have so much link that you don't know where to put them, have both is a good practice. In the top you can have links like contact US,*About US*,home and in the sidebar your other links.

  • It's for an administrative application. There are lots of modules: invoices, clients, quotes, cash flow, etc, etc. And each one has stuff too! We can't fit all of that in the sidebar either
    – Franco
    Dec 23, 2011 at 4:46
  • 1
    I think the best practice for this scenario is to use accordion menu.
    – Alireza
    Dec 23, 2011 at 4:49

I think it's fine.

An accordion menu would work as 'web designer' said in a comment and having it all in a vertical menu would allow for infinite expandability but a simple accordion menu would be cluttered - for example if you're using the bottom module in your new vertical accordion menu, you have to continually scroll past the previous modules to access the active modules features.

Given that this is an administrative application, it's likely that users would receive some kind of training rather than being allowed to jump straight in and start working. That said, the concept of having a top navigation for each module is simple enough for anyone to grasp, if it wasn't already obvious.

  • Okay. And why should the top navigation be the second level? I mean, you said "having a top navigation for each module". I was thinking of having the main navigation at the top and the module specific things on the sidebar, like I said in my post. Thanks!
    – Franco
    Dec 23, 2011 at 13:38
  • 1
    No, I'm agreeing with you. I could have phrased it a bit better, I meant "module navigation" as in navigation between modules (first level). :-)
    – Anonymous
    Dec 23, 2011 at 21:11

You can and should use as many navigation sections and menus as is necessary to make your application usable and intuitive.

If you would like to use your top navigation as the main, use a grouping scheme that allows you to nest the user selections. An example for a business type application would be:

Top: Departments (Accounting, Sales, Human Resources)

Side: Modules and Child Screens (Money IN/OUT, Lead Tracker, New Applicants, Department Landing Page)

  • I hadn't considered doing something like that. Thanks.
    – Franco
    Dec 27, 2011 at 0:00

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