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Vertical Navigation Respect the Certainty

Smashing Magazine, published their Twitter feed headline entitling “The Case Against Vertical Navigation”. This is where they talked about the various drawbacks of vertical navigation, and how it gives a monotonous look, killing the designing aspects. There were many things that were discussed in that article. Here, the defense, and damage control to vertical navigation will be provided, through this article discussing the various things point by point.

First Point: Bad Information Architecture through Vertical Navigation

It was pointed in the article, that vertical navigation kills the information architecture in a manner, which presents a bad outlook of the website. Along with that, it was said that horizontal navigation will facilitate the much needed layout of the website in a better way. However, this is not true at all. Long list of navigation is a point that was raised in this issue.

The common thing to understand here is that, it’s upon the designer who is presenting the links in the website. Vertical navigation can hold all the links, if presented in a neat format. This is better than horizontal navigation, as the scrolling down option is far more convenient than scrolling right or left. Another fact of the matter is that, if you are able to design the various links in a single page view, then it becomes easier in a vertical navigation system to make it aesthetically pleasing enough.

Second Point: Wasting the Left Side of the Webpage

It has been pointed out that usually, vertical navigation links are placed on the left hand side corner of the webpage. This results in a form of crowding the place, and even wasting it in the eyes of a designer. This is just an ignorant fact, which circumnavigates, due to generalization in designing pattern.

You have seen vertical navigation links in the most common websites, and this proves the aesthetic importance of using it. Just saying that it is a waste of space is not the solution to it. Talking about one of the best examples in the online world, blog templates are the best ones to describe the importance of vertical navigation. Content management at its level’s best can be seen in that.

This is where information architecture takes a side step, as blogs are very casual. Their approach is simpler, considered to other formats of the online world. The main page contains information, and navigation is present in a sidebar, placed usually on the left.

One of the important things to notice are the sub-contents, which are preset under the navigation links, which are almost useless. Now, if you would have used horizontal navigation, this content would have to get placed above main content. This will however force the main content downwards, which will aesthetically look pathetic. Formulating a solution to this, one can introduce a metadata forum inside the main content.

From popular social networking sites, like Facebook, to well mannered and accustomed online portals, like Wikipedia, everyone likes the vertical navigation. UX is far better in this, rather than horizontal navigation. With a cumulative response, vertical navigation holds strong position in market.

Third Point: Unreal Presence of Vertical Navigation

What the author has technically mentioned as unreal format of vertical navigation is aesthetically not true in overall respect. Yes, there are books, which involve the whole space and skips vertical navigation. Bringing to notice the other side of the coin is the real life presence of vertical navigation system.

Restaurant menus for example, hold the vertical navigation system where the main items to start with, are present in the left hand side (Or Starters, appetizers), and the main course meal listing on the right. Any kind of list in real world uses this navigation system.

Roman language book navigation used to be vertical only, as it gave a simplified reading experience to the user. Interpreting the content is the main thing behind this thought, and vertical navigation again stands strong in this arena.

Fourth Point: Not Successful According to Studies Conducted

According to various studies, it has been a circumnavigating fact, that navigation system at the top of a webpage is the most successful one. This study was based on people taking time on a particular website. This is aesthetically not a true one, as it is not necessary that people spending time on a website, like it better than others. It can possibly be a matter of utter confusion that a person needs to spend more time figuring out what to do?

As far as designing world is concerned, there are no rules to specify anything. One can design a website with complete strategies, and one may model a completely haphazard format. As far as navigation goes, the simplest thing is to make it randomly available in simplified format. This is the convenient way.

Apart from this, one can also get close to making it unique, and presenting a navigation system, which needs time to figure out. Successful or not, but vertical navigation has used the most in the market, and hence its counterpart or replacement needs to be better than this in terms of popularity.

From a diversified study through click-heat maps, one will find out that having a vertical navigation system means that you are getting more focus towards the main content area. This lacks in horizontal systems, and hence the studies conducted to see the success of vertical navigation holds a void space somewhere in its authentication.

Fifth Point: Benefits of Vertical Navigation are Negligible

Though, the headliner showed negative aspect of vertical navigation, it did not say it is rubbish overall. However, the few benefits were also termed negligible in importance. Use of fly-over, and drop down menus has been in abundance with requirement. Besides, if there would not have been any benefits, then why would designers prefer to use it more often, than its horizontal counterpart?


Situational conditions are the main points that should be kept in mind, while using any kind of navigation system. Vertical navigation is more in business, than horizontal navigation, but having a proper viewpoint is the most important in the end.


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