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Vertical navigation menus – should you use them?

Vertical Navigation

A vertical menu can be a great way to add a bit of an unexpected twist to your website design. While the vast majority of websites stick to the traditional horizontal menu across the top of the page, moving the menu to the left side of your site gives you a wide open canvas to play with on the rest of your screen.

For certain types of websites and designs, vertical menus can do more than add a bit of visual spice to your site; they can also improve the user’s browsing experience and make your site easier to navigate through anchor links and more.

If you’re thinking about venturing down this design route as you create your own website, here is a look at the pros and cons of using a vertical menu.

Vertical Menu

Vertical menu pros:

You can include many menu items Don’t want to worry about running out of room across the top of your page. With a vertical menu you can fit as many menu items as you want, making them a smart website menu design solution for longer menus.

Different length page names look better On horizontal menus, it looks best when all of the page names are similar in length. In vertical menus this matters less, making the menu style a good option for websites with page names of varying lengths.

They’re easy to scale and alter Add another page to your vertical menu without worrying if it will fit or alter your site design. If you frequently add new pages or change the menu names on your site, consider using a vertical menu.

All the content is visible Vertical menus allow you to list all of your website’s pages along the side of the page, while in a horizontal menu many of the website’s pages are hidden from view in dropdown menus. This makes vertical menus easier for website navigation and a great option for long, single-page websites.

They adapt to all screen sizes Your vertical menu will open with the same width and height, regardless of where a user is accessing it. Choose a vertical menu and be confident that your site will look great on any screen resolution.

Vertical menu cons:

Despite their many benefits, vertical website menus do have drawbacks and are not the right choice for every website. Here’s a look at some of the primary downsides.

Users read websites from left to right on a screen

Research shows that most users read websites from left to right. Given the way users are trained to read and process information, they are more likely to scan all of the menu items when they’re listed horizontally.

The right side of the screen gets more clicks

Because users start on the left side of their screens and move to the right, they are more likely to click on links on the right. This is compounded by the fact that most users are right-handed and using a right-handed mouse. A vertical menu on the left of your screen may get fewer clicks than a horizontal one.

Vertical menus can get cut off

If your menu is too long, some items may not be visible on all screens. Since most screens are wider than they are long, a horizontal menu will always be visible on the screen and won’t be cut off.

They take up more real estate

Long vertical menus or long page names that creep into the center of a website can take up valuable space on your page. If you don’t plan your site carefully, the vertical menu might invade into space that is better used for photographs or text about your business.

They can be confusing

We all know that old habits die hard and since users are accustomed to seeing websites with horizontal menus, they can get confused by a vertical menu. If your website caters to an older audience, you may want to stay away from an unusual or unexpected design.

While vertical menus aren’t the best solution for every site, they can be a lot of fun, and there’s no harm in trying out the look to see if you like it. To easily add a vertical menu to your own Wix website, it just takes a few clicks. If you’re looking for some design ideas, take a gander at some of these Wix websites with vertical menus:

Moka London

Moka London

Holly Foods Cookbook




Pro tip: On websites with abundant pages, a classic menu is often enhanced with breadcrumb navigation, helping visitors keep track of their location.

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