When designing a website one question you will come across is whether to have your navigation bar running along the top of the page (horizontally) or down the left/right side of the page (vertically). While you might be wondering ‘does it really matter?’ the answer is “Yes”, it can have great implications on the overall performance of the website and the visitors journey throughout you website.
Below are some pros and cons of both vertical and horizontal orientations that will help you in making the best choice for your website.
Vertical Navigation Pros
- Allows for easier scaling with numerous links traveling down the page. Although, keep in mind that having too many buttons is distracting and overwhelming for users. Be concise with the number of buttons you include in the navigation bar.
- Vertical navigation makes it easier to access lots of different subsections without drop down or hidden menus
- Use of standard, tree and group listings along with fly-outs to more efficiently
Vertical Navigation Cons
- Could take up space where valuable content could potentially be placed.
- Vertical navigation generally means more links which will increase the load time of the website
- The orientation of computer screens has changed over the years. These days, computer screens are typically more horizontal than screens of the past. So, depending on how long your (vertical) navigation menu is, some of your buttons could be cut off or unseen without scrolling.
Horizontal Navigation Pros
- A horizontal navigation is less invasive, allowing the reader to focus more on the content, rather than on the navigation.
- Overcomes the vertical monitor screen limits by allowing drop down menus to display additional links
- Allows visitors to potentially reduce their mouse movements
Horizontal Navigation Cons
- Limited as to the number and length of each link name running from left to right. If the length of your navigation bar becomes too long, it could run off the page and visitors will be unable to see those links anyway.
- More mouse movement is needed when moving from one button to the next.
- Drop-down sub menus may cover-up the page’s content below
So which is the right option to choose? To be honest, there really is no right or wrong answer. What you choose is dependent upon what works best for the functionality of your site and the preference of your visitors.