Just a few comments on this article I found while checking backlinks for my friend’s Web Design Guys site. (Btw, I’m really glad he got this mention on such a well-thought-out and helpful article. This guy (my friend) has some of the best design skills I’ve seen around. And he’s self-taught).
Anyway, the author of the article makes a case against using vertical navigation in website design. The main reasons he gives are:
1. It Discourages Information Architecture
2. It Wastes Prime Screen Real Estate
3. It Doesn’t Conform to Real-Life Reading
4. Fly-Outs Aren’t as Usable as Drop-Downs
5. It’s Not as Successful, According to Studies
6. The Few Benefits are Negligible
He does say that there are some exceptions, but still thinks in all those cases a horizontal navigation menu could do just as well. I agree with a lot of what he says in the article, but the thing that most sparked my interest in writing this quick post is his first point and, particularly, the supporting example. I’m too lazy to download and re-upload the screenshot and don’t think they would appreciate me hotlinking the image, so you can check it out for yourself, but he talks about a website he designed many years ago for an industrial plastics company. The site is of course “old-fashioned” – very simple, not flashy, with zero “Web 2.0″ influence. Kind of what you expect from most early 2000′s sites for this type of business. And, as is the case with a lot of old-fashioned websites, the design features a left-hand vertical navigation.
Thanks to the author for that article which looks like it took a good bit of effort and time to put together.