A website with long page scrolling with deep hierarchical content wants to follow best practices when adapted to mobile. The designer currently recommends that the navigation change to a local navigation as user begins to scroll down. Is this considered best practice?

Global nav is pictured all the way to the right, while proposed local navigation is the two left most photos. Thank you

proposed mobile navigation

  • What do you mean by 'local' navigation Dan? I think I know what you mean, but just want some clarification. Does every page have a different local nav, or is there a pretty consistent local nav used across multiple pages?
    – Brett East
    Aug 25, 2016 at 5:42
  • What I mean is that we have several pages that each have a deep hierarchy. So, to organize the content better, we have a sub navigation in place allowing users to access certain content quickly (as opposed to having to scroll down and find it themselves). The way we've done this with mobile is pictured above. I was hoping to get some feedback as to best usability practices in consideration of what we've done. Any thoughts? Aug 26, 2016 at 19:09
  • To me what you are saying 'Local nav' looks like page sections, on select 'The building' browser will scroll to that specific page section, If this is the case, I would suggest to change the title at top while user is scrolling or selecting, just to give a clue what they are consuming. However problem with this can be that user will come to know more about these page sections only when they land on any page, If you have something important in any page section I would suggest you to accommodate sub-menu under main menu itself, that way user can land on relevant content directly
    – Aman
    Sep 6, 2016 at 8:56

3 Answers 3


I believe it is unnecessary to have "double" navigation as proposed by your designer.

In one of your comments, you said the hierarchy is 3 levels deep, but on the demo site I saw only has 2.

If the navigation is only 2 levels deep

I would just leave it as you have it now. The navigation itself is not very long, so there is not so much content to scroll trough. Making it really easy to understand for users. The navigation is crystal clear this way.

If the navigation is only 3 levels deep

The double navigation might be a good idea for 3 level deep hierarchy, but personally I wouldn't place it into one navigation bar. I consider myself to be tach savvy person, and since I am a designer, I think I understand a lot of different navigational patterns. But I would find this very confusing. I would propose adding additional bar with links to different sections of the document, like in the image below.

  • The upside is it is really clear this way. It separates the navigation of the whole website and its main sections, and navigation of the current document.
  • The downside here is it takes additional vertical space (which is not so big of an issue nowadays)

enter image description here

  • Navigation is tricky subject because there is a conflict between what you (as the creator of the software - including designers / managers / product owners) 'think' you need (which is usually complicated) and what your users actually want to do (which is usually simple). Ideally your users should be able to achieve their goal with as little mental effort as possible. You can explore this through usability tests and exercises such as card sorting. Rojcyk's answer is good because it questions your need for multiple levels.
    – Jonny
    Aug 31, 2016 at 16:33

Good question, mobile navigation can be quite tricky. I would not use a local menu if the same content can be reached by using the global menu. Users will have no sense of where they are in your hierarchy. I also don't think users wil understand the arrow representing a global menu.

I would be helpful if you could post the hierarchy (or the amount of items it contains) so we can give you better advice.

What you can do is put the first two levels of menu items in your global navigation. Then you can create a menu/index with the third level of menu items on a page itself (like shortcuts, or hidden behind a button). How deep is your hierarchy?

  • The hierarchy is 3 levels deep on this page: Apartments, Fees + Policies, The Building. You cannot use reach the same content via the global menu. Can you show me an example of what you mean? You can take a look at the demo site on mobile/desktop for a better idea : demo.thebambergergroup.com/b/18/… Aug 31, 2016 at 14:32
  • Just a side note after checking out your awesome responsive site: Instead of the text "Get In Touch" at the top of the page (when the with is adapted for mobile users, replace that text with icons+text (such as a phone and the text "Call us") that lets the user tap to call or tap to open his/her e-mail app. It is a bit more complicated to fill in a web form while on mobile compared to when on desktop. Sep 2, 2016 at 8:15

How about adding a sort of "Table of contents" at the top of the page, listing the different headers and even linking to them, with the option of a "back to top" icon by each header further down on the page. (Niether of these should be sticky.)

That way it is simple to get an overview of the content and also to navigate up/down without having to scroll too much.

But I would also suggest to check out wikipedia's mobile solution, I did a quick check and they did not appear to compensate for large amounts of scrolling (other than an option to search within the page from the main menu).

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