There are many CMS and other web application that sometimes require a left-hand navigation area which provide a way for the user to access additional resource in that specific area. This is not a global navigation, but rather contextual based on location.

What are some design guidelines? How much space should it take up on the page? What is the expected behavior? How complex can styles and animations be?

  • Add some context to the question. Do you have any information about what navigational elements would go here? For example, are we talking about a wiki like application, where the navigation needs to grow?
    – Tom R
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 21:12
  • The navigation will contain links to views of data, as well as possible sub-sites or content pages within that specific area. The best example I can think of is something called the "quick launch" side navigation that some CMS implement.
    – TubaTech
    Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 15:35
  • For example if HR is Global Link then Sub nav will be like (Manage employee,add Employee,Manage Time History, Leave Managment) etc
    – Pir Abdul
    Commented Jun 25, 2011 at 20:43

1 Answer 1


As you say sometimes a left or indeed vertical navigation is a necessity. In terms of design guidelines I've three for you.

  1. Find out - if you are working with a CMS - what, if any character limit is set as a result of the CMS configuration for navigation labels, many CMS products have such limits. If so make sure your design allows for the maximum.
  2. If you are lucky to be working without any such character limit make sure that the design and build can allow for navigation labels that wrap onto more than one line as at some point this WILL happen even with the best intentions and content style guide in place.
  3. Over the past few months I've carried out user testing on a number of sites that have vertical navigation both left and right. Finding from these include - make sure that the navigation is visually integrated with the content in view so that it is plan to see that it's contextual. Secondly ensure that the links don't look like or appear in positions that are often taken by google ads as content in these areas is disregarded by an ever increasing group of users.

You also mention animation which would suggest that there are further sub divisions or groups of content. If this is the case make sure it evident that these exist from higher levels so that nothing is missed and keep any animations short so not to annoy the user over time.

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