Even if you aren’t familiar with the term, chances are you know what a “Sticky” or fixed navigation on a website is. As the name suggests, a Sticky nav stays at the top of your computer screen as you scroll down the site. More and more websites are turning to this helpful development trend. You can visit www.redbox.com, www.treehouse.com or www.searchenginejournal.com for examples of a Sticky navigation. Better yet, just glance up to see the Sticky nav in action right here on our website, www.1seo.com.
The past couple years have seen a huge rise in popularity of the Sticky nav, and for good reason. Easy access to the main components of the site’s header – typically the logo, phone number and menu links – help the user navigate the site with ease and keep the call to action in the forefront, regardless of where the user may be in the page’s content. They are particularly helpful on content-heavy websites, which may require a large amount of scrolling. In these cases, a Sticky nav saves the reader the time of having to scroll back up to the header to continue browsing the website.
Designers shouldn’t feel that sticky navigation’s are “one size fits all.” A well-designed website will consider what is most important to the user when deciding which components should stay fixed in the navigation, which ones can be shrunk down (i.e. the site’s logo), and which ones can drop off altogether, as the user scrolls down the site. www.99u.com is a good example of a site whose navigation shifts upon scrolling.
Of course, there are also potential downsides to using a Sticky navigation and it may not be the best solution for every website. Arguments against a fixed navigation bar include that it can be distracting, or take up too much prime real estate on a website. If your site is simple and doesn’t require much scrolling, it may not make sense to have the navigation follow the user down the page. You also need to keep in mind that Sticky navs typically don’t function well on mobile and tablet devices. As with any component of a website, you should run thorough tests on all devices and browsers to make sure the navigation is performing at its best for the end user.
As stated above, the Sticky navigation may not be the ideal solution for ALL websites, but it is a design trend that seems to be keeping users happy. In fact, in a recent study by Smashing Magazine, 100% of users preferred the Sticky navigation to the standard nav. If our goal as web developers is to improve user experience and ease of use of a website, then the Sticky navigation is definitely worth looking into.