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Mobile Navigation Menu Design 3 Mobile Navigation Menu Design
Review: 4 - Mobile Navigation Menu Design

Navigation menu design in mobile apps is an effective tool to help users interact productively with your app. 

Here it’s simple: the more intuitive the interface, the less difficulty the user will have. 

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Illustration by Patryk Wojciechowicz for Fireart Studio

However, we decided to write this guide. Here, we’ll tell you why you should pay special attention to creating mobile navigation in your apps. You’ll also learn about the most common types of mobile navigation, and as a bonus, you’ll get ten useful tips for developing it.

Well, let’s get into the details of mobile navigation menu design!

What is Mobile Navigation, and Why is it Important?

The navigation menu is a guide in your app that helps the user through all phases of interaction with the product. In simple terms, navigation is an easy way to navigate from one function to another. Using the mobile navigation menus, the user can easily understand the app’s interface and get to the page of interest.

The clearer your menu is to the customer, the better the designer has done his job. If the user needs additional instructions to understand the navigation menu, then it loses its main purpose.

The foundation of a good mobile app is the ease of use. The navigation menu is one of the tools that will help you achieve this goal.

Types of Mobile Navigation Menu:

To make it easier to understand how to organize mobile navigation within your app, we’ve collected seven types of navigation for you. Check out popular mobile navigation examples that have already proven successful in various apps.

1. Tabber

Tabber is a classic navigation menu design for mobile applications. It is the one chosen by many developers. It is easy to develop and implement in the product, as well as intuitive for users. A particular advantage of the design is that you will be comfortable using the phone with one hand, rather than moving it from hand to hand or holding it with two hands at once. This advantage has made Tabber perhaps the most popular mobile navigation menu option.

However, this design does have disadvantages. The more items you have in your menu, the more cumbersome the bar will seem. In that case, you might want to consider implementing a different type of navigation for your app.

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Illustration by Yellow.Y for Dreamotion

2. Rectangular

Another classic way to design an app’s navigation menu. With this format, you can easily combine the main outputs to the home page. This way, you’ll give users the choice of how exactly they can navigate to the home page. You may be surprised, but mobile app developers are now favoring other navigation models simply because of more interesting alternatives. But if you want to implement a proven and good way of navigation in your app, then you’d better stop at this option.

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Illustration by Amir Baqian for Acedesign

As for the disadvantages, when choosing this type of menu, you should be more careful in choosing the color design. Too bright colors can cause the user to get tired of interacting with the app. And the purpose of the navigation menu is to simplify the user’s interaction with the application. So take a more responsible approach to this question.

3. Drawer 

You can easily solve this problem by arranging the elements vertically. In this way, you can easily and efficiently hide the menu from the current page, making room for the main content. It only takes one click for the user to display the hidden menu again and use the elements for navigation. It is a good example of navigation design, which will help to supplement the lack of constraints in switching between the application’s tabs.  

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Illustration by Kevin Dukkon for Fintory

With this design, you’ll give customers the ability to focus on a specific landing page and not be distracted by other menu elements. Speaking of disadvantages, you’d better not use this way of navigation if your users will frequently switch between the tabs of the mobile app. 

4. Rudder 

If you use dating apps or food ordering apps, you may have already seen this type of navigation menu design.

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Illustration by Risang Kuncoro for Plainthing Studio

This popular type of mobile navigation is called a steering wheel because the main button that opens the menu often resembles a steering wheel and is round. Pressing this button will bring up the menu items on either side of the button. If your app pages have the same content structure and require frequent login operations, you can stop with this option and apply it to develop a navigation menu for your mobile app.

5. Hamburger menu

Despite numerous developer critiques, this type of navigation menu design is still at the top. If you have limited space for menu layout, then the Hamburger menu and its drop-down list are great solutions for your application. It has more merit than you might think at first glance. Users are used to this kind of navigation and, intuitively, will be ready to see it in your app.

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Illustration by Taylor Perrin

In addition, if your menu has too many items and you can’t reduce their number, the Hamburger menu will allow you not to take up much space in the application interface. On the downside, a small percentage of users won’t be able to figure out if it’s worth clicking on a small item to see the expanded menu.

If your app’s potential audience can include such users, you’re better off going with more classic models for mobile navigation design. However, if you can’t calculate the percentage of such customers, you can protect yourself and add a pop-up with a tooltip to make it easier for the user to find the menu button.

6. Bottom navigation bar

On the user side, the Bottom navigation bar allows you to navigate through the application’s tabs with the thumb of one hand. Raise all the necessary buttons with links to the relevant sections of the application, and you can avoid the problem of users not seeing your menu. It’s a simple scheme, easy to design and implement. However, it’s not a new solution, and it’s not original at all. It’s just a time-tested, workable, and user-friendly menu.

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Illustration by Yaroslav Zubko for Zubko Studio

It’s very compact and convenient. A simple design allows the user to perform a minimal amount of actions to reach the end goal of their route through your app. If you don’t know which one of the options described in the article is best for you, go with the standard Bottom navigation bar. 

7. Card-based

For those looking for the most original and interactive format for the navigation menu, we suggest considering Cards mobile navigation menu examples. They come in various shapes and allow you to improve user interaction with the app just the way you would benefit from it. You can change their number and place them in different corners of the application interface. 

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Illustration by Yurii Funkendorf for Cre8 Team

10 Mobile Navigation Menu Best Practices:

As a bonus, we’ve prepared ten mobile navigation best practices that will help you simplify the process of developing a navigation menu and help you avoid common mistakes made by beginners.

1. Choose proper labels and icons

Make sure you’ve chosen the right labels and symbols for your menu implementation.It is important because every element in the navigation bar should play on the user’s side and make interacting with your mobile product easier. That seems obvious until you start noticing poorly implemented menu elements yourself.

2. Place critical actions at the top

Another tip is lying on the surface but so often forgotten by designers. Always put the most significant actions first. Build a scale of priorities and determine which actions the user will perform more frequently than others within your app. Focus on them and put them in the most prominent place so that the customer will pay attention to these elements right away.

3. Provide the option to go one step back

Remember that the back to the previous section button should always be in a prominent place. Don’t put this button in a hidden menu because users have easy access to such a button. If you hide it in a drop-down menu, you’ll only make it more difficult to navigate through the application. That’s not your goal, is it?

4. Think about fonts and background

It’s also worth thinking about design details such as fonts and menu backgrounds. These elements should blend in with the main interface of the application. Don’t bore the user with too bright colors, so they don’t lose attention and get distracted from the application’s landing pages.

5. Be careful with scrolling

Scrolling through many items in the navigation menu to find the right one means forcing the user to perform unnecessary actions. That doesn’t make it any easier to work in the app, so try to simplify the scrolling process and the number of items in your drop-down menu.

6. Minimize breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs in mobile apps can too rapidly grow to multiple lines and take up valuable screen space. Consider simplifying the latter components to avoid cluttering the screen with multiple lines.

7. Stick small menus

Simplicity is the key to success, so focus only on the priority menu items that benefit your app and the user.

8. Account for finger and hand positioning

All of us usually use the phone with one hand. It’s more convenient and faster. Keep this in mind when developing an app for your customers. Your menu should be available for one-click navigation.

9. Avoid clutter, respect visual hierarchy

It’s simple here. Confusion can confuse the user. Since confusion is not part of our plan, you should use a clear structure for your menu. That will positively impact the user experience, and customers won’t have any unnecessary complications.

10. Content needs to be legible

Don’t stack elements on top of each other. The more legible your menu is, the easier it is for your users.

Conclusion: Choose the Right Variant that Suits for You

In this article, we’ve looked at the reasons why a mobile navigation menu is important to design. You can use your template or take no chances and pay attention to one of the seven popular templates we mentioned.

If you need help developing a mobile application and menu for it, we at Fireart Studio will be happy to help you implement a project of any complexity with mobile app navigation best practices. Just write us, and we will find the best solution for your product.


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