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I have an engineering background, but for the current project I'm trying to help my client out with UX and navigation. My client has drawn an Android app that I am implementing. In this app, the navigation goes pretty much all through the navigation drawer. For instance, clicking on a drawer item opens a new "section" (view), and from this section the navigation drawer is always available, by swiping in the screen or via the menu button in the top bar.

My question is: are there any major drawbacks in this "total" drawer design? One of the advantages my client has seen is that every section is available from everywhere, instead of having the user first navigate back to some base screen and then having to open the drawer, and this seems reasonable to me.

Thanks for your attention and contribution.

  • There's no inherent problem with a nav drawer, the success depends on a lot of little details. – obelia Aug 11 '15 at 21:44
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One of the questions I can answer very clearly: Yes, there are drawbacks:

  1. Due to Android guidelines main navigation is not supposed to be handled by the drawer completely. This implicitly creates friction for the user (who is maybe not used to non-android behavior), second Google strongly advertises not to do it due to style guide conventions and will take influence on partnership agreements (yes, we had that issue, and it was expensive). I just see that they watered this restriction a little here: https://www.google.de/design/spec/patterns/navigation.html#navigation-patterns . But maybe it is interesting to keep it in mind.
  2. If your app is copying a website (like an optional app to a e-commerce webshop), one major issue to think of is: User expectations. Users will try to find patterns in the app that they know from the website environment. We had a 40% CVR drop by just putting navigation in the drawer, while this was kind of common behavior for throughout the apps. Our learning: Don't only consider APP standards, but also YOUR standards - the ones you set online. If you have a top navigation on the website but hide it in the drawer in your app: People will miss it, disregarding the fact that this behavior could be native.
  3. If you also create a view with a side pane or a tab layout, users might get confused by the feeling of "Oh, the nav menu is gone?"

Generally, there is a lot of discussion on the drawer, as it was on the hamburger menu, since the general rule of thumb still applies: If it is important - do not hide it.

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not sure if it's what you meant but it seems like the client pretty much wants the whole sitemap on the navigation. one problem is there might be too much scrolling and the user will be overwhelmed every time they want to navigate the app and they will have to look thru all the links each time. this however depends on the size of the app.

maybe the best way to find out is test it on a couple of users. giving them tasks to find particular pages on the navigation and see how long they take to find them

  • Thanks @Razor9012. Have you designed apps based heavily on the navigation drawer? – ticofab Aug 12 '15 at 8:30
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2 Point to consider :

  1. Are none of your screens inter related? If they are then you should probably let those be navigable from their respective base screen.
  2. Make sure the side drawer is not too long. Generally it should have items to the point where it doesnt become scrollable on a decent 5 inch screen.

& if by now you have gone ahead with your approach, then try to analyse how many screens are users actually viewing. You may find some clues to your UX then :)

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