Product manager’s eternal dilemma: top vs. side navigation?

Diana Ivanenko
3 replies
Hey Product Hunt folks, I’m a product manager and I’ve been pondering over this dilemma for a long time. When creating a multi-page desktop product, this question always comes up: left-side navigation or top navigation? Both options come with advantages and disadvantages, making it hard to choose. Which one do you use in your product and why? Will be happy to hear your thoughts on the topic!


Diana Ivanenko
Product Manager
Here is my experience with this dilemma. We use the side navigation on our human translation platform Nitro and on the company’s website. These are my reasons to chose the side navigation: 1. The side menu is always visible, it doesn’t disappear when you scroll down. 2. A vertical list is easier to skim through (with horizontal menu, your eyes have to move first horizontally, then vertically to read the drop-down menu). 3. Mobile navigation usually has the side navigation with a drop-down menu, and with the increased usage of mobile devices everyone got more used to this form of navigation, I guess. Here are some downsides I see with the left-side navigation: 1. Takes up more screen spaces compared to the top navigation. 2. Doesn't stick out as much as the top navigation.
Fatih Yıldız
No single answer to be honest, varies for each platform. It's better to sketch it and see if it's good or not. We try to convince each other, then I give it up to product designer. Empower other people or you will need to deal with every decision in the organization. This makes other people happy as well.
Anil Meena
Building Pensil
If you are juggling with lots of items to navigate between and the list is always evolving (eg. user adding items or created channels etc) it's better to go with side navigation, but if you can limit items top menu is better. However, there have been cases where I've seen even the top menu has sub-hierarchy and the list is long in those menus.