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I am trying to build a page that has search, a profile, a few pages and many sub-navigational pages within those pages. I was thinking of doing drop-down menus along the top, but felt a left side navigation may be better and allow the user to quickly jump through menus. Does anyone have good examples of this kind of navigation? I included the Airbnb screenshot as an example of what I am thinking. What are the best practices for this type of structure? Is there a better way of organizing the information? Would it be bad to have only 2 or 3 items in the left hand nav for some of the pages?

So many questions! Thanks for your help, all.

airbnb example

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The best practice, quite simply, would be a hierarchical system

The top nav is your top level navigation, the side nav is the sub navigation

It suits systems where the top level items are fairly independent of one another, but the second level items are more related and, more importantly, are clearly "children" of the top level item

Eg at the top I click settings, and on the left are a variety of categories or types of settings.

If you don't have a clear 2 level hierarchy, this type of navigation can be confusing: the user should intuitively know which top level item they need for any second level item. If they don't, you're using the wrong navigation system

A bad example of a similar system, I always find, is the PHPbb forum system - even as a long time user, I can never remember whether some settings are in "Profile", or "Preferences"... Because the delineation between the two wasn't good enough.

AirBnB is quite a good example: look at your screenshot, and you can see that all the items clearly belong in the same tab, and you'd definitely know where to go to look for them. It's intuitive, and navigation should always, always be intuitive. It's common almost everywhere, though: Twitch uses a similar system, but so do most sites nowadays, at least for their "settings" pages

As to your specific question about having only a couple of items on the left.... No, that's not a bad thing, although you may want to consider dropping the second level entirely for just that page, if the two items can sensibly be combined

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