Top menu vs Side Menu on Web Applications

Top menu vs Side menu which one Really Better than other, it is ongoing debate among UX designers. The debate almost always breaks down to a single question, Top menu or Side menu?
Because always when we start designing an web applications or web sites following things came in mind that’s are.
Which menu should I use? side bar menu or a top menu? What’s the main difference for the end user experience?

Top Menu

When considering top navigation, one thing we need to keep in mind that there may be lot of links need to fit horizontally. This can be an issue of content organization.

– Top menu items are more visible because they are always above the fold and are easier to find
– Top navigation’s are also easier to find because they are usually accompanied by the header and logo, both of which are visually dominant objects

Hard to scale when adding many navigational links-
If you considering a menu with 5 items it might not always be the easiest to add a 6th item. Mostly this issue doesn’t exist in vertical/sidebar menus.

Use of sub menus may interfere with page’s content below it
Using mega menu as sub menu (fly-out/dropdown menus) of menu bar links get overlaps on main page content, which can be a usability hassle if not well-crafted.

The left most item carry more visual weight than the other items because of its placement in the primary optical area (top left)

Side Menu

One of the most compelling reason to use side navigation can best be explained in the example of an e-commerce site which contains many categories and sub-categories.

A left sidebar navigation is faster and more efficient for users to scan.
Placement of links in sidebar is easier to scale numerous links traveling down the page
Use of standard, tree and group listings along with fly-outs to more efficiently.

In case of too many links, some links might get pushed below fold, all navigation links in sidebar are not always above the fold

Vertical sidebar navigation is more user friendly and beneficial
when working on shopping cart sites or on admin panels/web applications where number of navigation links are more. Also, with vertical menu bar, adding a new link is quite simple.


Anil Giri is the guy who can develop UI/UX with html, css and javascript and also able to create attractive and catchy UI for print media as well as for web with latest pattern and for all the major browsers and devices. I also loves blogging on web design, development and blogging.

One thought on “Top menu vs Side Menu on Web Applications

  • August 8, 2019 at 7:46 am

    Thank you Anil it is an awesome post, it’s really very helpful for me to understand the pros and cons of menu placements.


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