I asked a question here looking for design ideas for an alternative to the nested drop-down menus scheme I had come up with. User mikryz helpfully provided an alternative idea with this mockup:

enter image description here

I'm having trouble figuring out what to display on the left hand side when a user first visits the site and has not selected a "report category" from the top "Reports" drop down menu at the top.

The two ideas I had were to display a vertical bar from top to bottom with the same color as the navigation bar but with nothing in it. Then populate it upon the event. I don't like this idea because I don't want a dark background underneath the content (the nav bar color must stay the same).

The other idea I had was to have the content slide in from the left when the user clicks a Report category. However, I'm still unable to find a way to get it to slide in underneath the navbar instead of pushing the navbar to the right as well (I'm using Bootstrap 3). I know this is a UX forum and not primarily a developers or BS3 forum so I am not holding out hope for help solving this. Suffice to say I've googled for hours without solution. SE prevents me from posting a link to the "answered" solutions to this problem that did not help me.

My question: What should I display in an area on initial page load that only contains content after a user makes a selection?

In particular, looking at the graphic above: what should go on the left-hand side when the page loads for a user but before she has chosen a category of content to display there?

2 Answers 2


If I may suggest a slight change of direction:

The layout you provide in the question (I'll call it the "read screen") is tied to a top-level report category - "Local Catalog Maintenance" in this case. If no top-level category is has been selected by the user, you'd want to show a different view entirely.

Typically this would be a "index screen" of some kind - a list of the top-level categories, which the user can click on to get to the read screen.

  • Thanks for your suggestion. I'll try to implement this - it sounds like a great idea.
    – user45183
    Jan 30, 2016 at 19:59

Suggestion 1:

Anticipatory design: I would recommend pushing the user to one of the selections based on the data you get from your users. Which one is the hottest zone.

Suggestion 2:

Matrix Solution: You can present the user with the first 2 option he has in your platform. Blue pill: Results Red pull: Reports + a little description for each. enter image description here

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