Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

People like to use the navigation bar as it is much simpler than the navigation menu. For this reason, for ease of use, many well-known applications are starting to prioritize the navigation bar …

But, if you use it incorrectly, it will turn the whole interface upside down.

Therefore, in this article, I will give you some UI / UX tips for designing a more functional navigation bar for your interface.

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So let’s get started without delay.

1. Always highlight the current tab

Highlighting the current tab in your app’s navigation bar will give the user visual feedback. This means he will know where he is. If you don’t select the tab, then there is a chance that the user will get confused.

For a better indication of the current tab, you can use colors and microinteractions.

For example, in a Google app, the navigation bar highlights the current tab by changing the icon color from gray to blue.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

You can specify the current tab using different styles, as in the example from Zsolt hutvagner in the image above.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

For web applications it is also necessary to specify the active tab for better user understanding.

2. Add some animation

Using animation or micro-animation inside the navigation bar will make the application more attractive. Therefore, feel free to use them.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

You can improve navigation by adding simple sliding animations and microinteractions to your icons.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

Color-changing icons and animated text will make your navigation more attractive.

3. Don’t use too much animation

In the previous tip, I recommended using animation, but if you use it too often it will hurt the user experience.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

In addition, very slow animations can be annoying to the user, especially if they need to quickly skip a few screens.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

The animation effect can be annoying for users. Imagine being forced to look at such effects every time you interact with an application.

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Sometimes animation looks cool the first time, but when users have to use it on a daily basis, it starts to annoy them.

4. Use text with icons carefully

Icons with text will take up a lot of space on the navigation bar, so it is important to determine in advance whether you need to use text or not. To do this, you need to understand your audience.

If your audience has some technical knowledge and can understand icons without text – use only icons, otherwise add text.

I always recommend trying shorter text and always choosing icons that are much easier to recognize. For better accessibility, try using text with icons.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

You can use text and icon with this style as it allows the user to see text and icon at the same time.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

Let’s take a look at a real-world example of text with icons from the Spotify app. Spotify uses simple icons with short text underneath to help the user understand the navigation easily.

5. The less the better

Try to use as few icons and text as possible on the navigation bar. It should contain only the most important elements and functions.

The rest of the parameters can be hidden in the navigation menu or profile settings.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

Spotify uses a settings icon for other less useful navigation items. While all the key functions are located directly on the navigation bar.

Another reason for the small number of items on the panel is to avoid accidental clicks. If there are too many icons on the navigation bar, it is highly likely that the user will click the wrong icon due to the small screen of the mobile device.

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Try to use as few icons and variations as possible. It is recommended to use a maximum of 5 options.

Tips for designing the perfect navigation bar

A number of designers love the concept you can see in the picture above. It’s called nested options, but keep in mind that this approach can unnecessarily complicate the navigation bar.

Keep it simple and use fewer icons and text, because less is more.

These 5 simple tips will help you create the best navigation bar. You can find many more useful guidelines on the Internet, so read the other articles to better understand this topic.

Special thanks to Junio ​​Serroni and Gav Grayston for advice.

Thanks for reading.

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