What is sticky navigation?Sticky navigation refers to having design elements that are permanently on users’ screens even as they scroll down a page. While this was mostly reserved for the navigation bar in its early use, as the world has become more social, social buttons, chat icons, and other communication elements have become popular sticky elements used in web design. As you can see in the example above, apart from the social and sharing buttons on the left side of the screen, video blocks can also be used as a sticky element.
Pros and Cons of sticky navigation
ProsIf you choose to have a menu bar (or the more popular hamburger button) to be in the user’s permanent view, this allows them to move around the site quicker. In fact, an early study found that fixed navigation bars shave 36 seconds off a five-minute visit to a website. Another study found that implementing sticky navigation on an e-commerce site was able to increase conversion by close to 3%. That’s a great boost, even before optimizing your product page. The same study found that sticky navigation resonated with both older adults and younger users. The researchers posited that this was because having sticky elements in permanent view served as a “crutch” in navigating the digital world, preventing users from feeling overwhelmed with options, and knowing exactly where they need to go. All the above pros ultimately point to advantages in usability, and specifically – speed. It lessens the number of clicks and scrolling needed, and anything that makes users’ life easier is always a good thing when it comes to interaction design – and a step closer to the perfect website navigation.
ConsDespite sticky navigation being largely a matter of preference, one thing that cannot be contested is that it takes up space. While this may not be an issue on desktop browsers, it’s more pronounced when it takes up valuable mobile screen real estate. When implemented wrong, sticky navigation elements can serve as a distraction from the actual content. Sticky menus are trickier for developers to implement, particularly when it comes to mobile design. Apart from the technical challenges, the complication brought about by sticky elements can also increase load times, which is always a user turn-off. When there’s almost no scrolling to be done on the website, there’s virtually no use for sticky navigation. Additionally, the navigation bar is obscured by the text and images, making it difficult to see it at all. So you always need to look at your site needs when deciding on whether you need sticky navigation, and if you find that you do – ensure that it works across all devices.
How to implement sticky navigationFirst off, don’t change the code directly on your live site to ensure that nothing breaks. There are free local development apps that help you set up a test environment where you can follow the steps below. As well, while you can create sticky headers using CSS styling, for the sake of brevity – we’ll show you how to do it on the easiest platform—WordPress.
Creating a sticky headerNow, the way to implement this might differ from theme to theme. Themes like Atelier directly offer an option to activate the sticky header option. We’re going to take the example of Jupiter theme by Artbees to show you how it’s done. By default, the header builder is disabled on WordPress. You can find the complete steps for how to activate it here. Once you get that out of the way, follow these steps:
- From the WordPress left menu, go to the starred theme, and click on the Settings icon, and enable Sticky Header.
- The Sticky Header Offset decides when the header goes into the sticky header state, while the option below sets how the sticky header is going to behave.