Design Trends in Responsive Navigation: Best Practices 2015
Responsive websites have become standard. More and more people switch from their desktop devices to mobile clients like smartphones and tablets to consume websites. If you don't want to fall behind and lose valuable visitors, it's about time to optimize your website for mobile view. Such a website provides a good and accessible navigation on mobile devices. Practically speaking, mobile navigation is one of the most important elements in responsive design, so be sure to invest adequate time.
Latest Trends in Mobile NavigationResponsive navigation menus are continuously being developed further with new solutions coming up. Some of them may only be niche solutions but they're still interesting. So, let's have a look at them. I'll show you how the desktop and mobile view of each menu looks like because that's what this article is all about. If possible, I'll provide a download link below the presented menu.
Responsive Full Width TabsMobile portrait (320x480) A fantastic solution for websites with few navigation items. The tabs are large enough to be operated even with gloves on. Demo and download
Responsive Retina-Friendly MenuMobile portrait (320x480) A very unusual solution for blogs and websites with few navigation elements. By using icon fonts instead of pure graphical icons this solution becomes retina ready. What should be mentioned is that tablets show a different menu than smartphones. On tablets it's a list of layered menu items (either side-by-side or on top of each other) whereas on smartphones it extends by a click. Demo and download
Responsive Multi-Level MenuThe Responsive Multi-Level Menu picks up an old idea refined with many interesting effects. Unfortunately, they can't be captured on screenshots. Therefore, I would recommend you to visit the site. You can choose between 5 different effects. Demos and download
MULTI-LEVEL PUSH MENUThe same here. They picked up an old idea and refined it. The implementation, however, follows a well-conceived approach as the overlapping levels are designed extremely user friendly. The menu items are also large enough to be accessed with gloves on. Demos and download
Slideout MenuMobile portrait (320x480) The Slideout Menu is a tutorial by our big sister SmashingMagazine.com and suits perfectly for websites that have a lot of menu items. Demo and download/tutorial
Off-Canvas Menu with a TwistThis is the most appealing solution I have come across so far. It's suitable for the desktop as well as mobile view. Unfortunately, the mobile view only shows the icon buttons whereas the writing is hidden. Mobile portrait (320x480) Demo and download
Pull Down Menu InteractionThe Pull Menu offers a very interesting and innovative concept which is well implemented. Menu items can be chosen by pulling down the menu icon as far as necessary. By releasing the icon the item will be loaded. The menu pulled down Demo and download
Google Nexus Website MenuThe Google Nexus Website Menu is not only a menu for smartphones and tablets but works for all screen resolutions. What makes it interesting is that you only have to add one navigation during the project's development process. By tapping on the menu item in the upper left corner, the menu slides out a bit. The full list opens when you hover over one of the items. Mobile portrait (320x480) Demo and download
Social App MenuThe active menu This is also based on an old idea, however, with a completely new approach. It's well made and definitely worth a closer examination. Demo and download
jQuery Plugins for Responsive Navigation MenusThe most important jQuery plugins are, of course, a must in an article about mobile navigation. Here you can find well-tried as well as new products with one giving a new experience from an approach which has always been the same.
jQuery NavobileMobile portrait (320x480) Demo and download
jQuery.mmenuMobile portrait (320x480) This plugin stands out from the crowd because it offers completely new approaches with an integrated search and appealing submenus.In addition, it's not only a mobile menu but suitable for all website resolutions. Demo and download
Trunk.js - A Responsive Web SolutionMobile portrait (320x480) Trunk.js is one of the most frequently used solutions when it comes to responsive navigation. It works smooth as silk, is pretty fast and suitable for websites with lots of navigation items. Demo and download
SlickNav - Responsive Mobile MenuMobile portrait (320x480) SlickNav is a well-working plugin which can, however, only display the responsive, mobile version of a navigation menu. This makes it work well and fast, so SlickNav is always an option in the development process. Demo and download
Examples for Well-Implemented Responsive Menus (Non-Downloadable)The following examples show how responsive mobile navigation can be optimally implemented. The websites have extraordinarily designed navigations and can be a real inspirational source for your own website.
Lotta Nieminen - Graphic DesignerMobile portrait (320x480) This solution is becoming more and more popular for websites with few menu items. The menu items are simply put on top of each other using CSS and can be accessed quite easily. Link to the website
AbletonMobile portrait (320x480) Ableton relies on a pull-down menu with an integrated search function and links to the cart and one's profile. A good example for user friendliness. Link to the website
Digital AtelierMobile portrait (320x480) Digital Atelier has a pretty outlandish and unique mobile navigation. It can be operated with gloves on but resolutions of 800x600 and below don't show writings of the mobile navigation. Link to the website
CSS Tricks by Chris CoyierMobile portrait (320x480) The grand master of CSS, Chris Coyier, takes the easy way out with having only few menu items. Using CSS, he lets the navigation items flow either on top of each other or side-by-side. The result is nice as the menu items are of decent size guaranteeing operation with gloves on. Link to the website
sketchin - evolutive experience designMobile portrait (320x480) A well-tried idea newly interpreted. The mobile navigation along with an animation is put over the actual website. Link to the website
ConclusionIn 2015, we'll get to see more new innovative ideas than ever before as many solutions are being continuously developed and interpreted further. Surely, not all solutions presented here are suitable for mass production, may it be because they're thought to be experimental, because they don't support Internet Explorer, or because they can't display enough menu items. But then again, there are some fresh solutions which stand out from the mass and make the mobile view of your website unique. And what can't be used on live websites today, will be a common thing tomorrow.
Related LinksDownloadable solutions
- Responsive Fullwidth Tabs
- Responsive Retina Ready Menu
- MULTI-LEVEL PUSH MENU
- Slideout Menu Tutorial
- Off-Canvas Menu with a Twist
- Pull Down Menu Interaction
- Google Nexus Website Menu
- Social App Menu