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[web] Top or side menu's?

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I was wondering what the general consensus was on menu placement, do you prefer them at the top of the page or down the side of the page? I site I created uses the top menu and gamedev.net does a good job of placing alot of content links up the top, but the majority of pages I see have them down the left side. I can't understand the design decision of placing them on the side, I prefer the use of horizontal space so users only have to scroll one direction and a simple table at the top makers it much easier to code. Just interested in your thoughts on it!

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I prefer a left menu. Thats always there when i want it. (some javascript trickery which aligns the menu with the screen.) And collapses into the side of the screen when i don't.

From,
Nice coder

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A menu on the left usually has 1 item per line, and its pretty much like an index. Its very easy to look down the list for what your after. If you place a menu along the top you have to scan the line, figure out the columns, go from one item to the next, and its easy to miss items or jump lines. Top menu's aren't "bad" as such, but for quick scanning left menu's are much easier IMHO. A menu is just a quick way to get to all the different pages so making a menu thats easy to scan seems logical to me. Top menus are definatly a better way to manager your space, and they can fit alot more info in concisely. For me however a menu shouldn't be able fitting lots of content in - it should be able easily navigating your page, so IMHO left menu's work better.

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Where you place your menu is unimportant. Mandatory is that it is understandable, clear, has no bad links, in sight and fairly consistent throughout your pages.

If you've got large (long) pages, you shouldn't place your menu on the bottom though, people may dislike the scrolling.

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I want to be able to figure out how to get to the page I'm trying to reach on your site within about 10 seconds (preferably a lot faster than that). Put the menu anywhere that will facilitate this, and you'll keep a lot of users happy.

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The basic rules of a menu or navigational system is that you don't make the section the same color as nearby surrounding elements. This doesn't mean use eye-bleeding colors. Just a darker/lighter shade of the general color scheme. Like the Gamedev bar, the top is clearly defined aside from the body of the page. I absolutely hate pages that just bleed one part of the page to the other.

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The current design trend is a menu on the right and optionally a menu in the top with the most used items/sections. A List Apart is a prime example of this.

Most blogs seem to be using this style. I like it, it is clean and easy to navigate. Hmm, I wonder how it would look with the page not fixed-width and centered...

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