Web Design, Thought Leaders

3 Creative Navigation UI Patterns for Better UX

August 28, 2019

by Pete McCain

Project Manager, AppVelocity

Businesses should make their mobile apps simple and well-designed so people can more easily interact with the interface. Use this article to gain tips on what navigational techniques you should integrate to optimize your app. 

With over 2.1 million apps in the Google Play Store and 1.8 million in the Apple App Store, 12 million mobile app developers are striving to achieve this one goal: To visualize, design, and build applications that turn a more monotonous task into a streamlined experience with as few glitches as possible.

According to a set of infographics designed by Toptal, 83% of users believe a seamless experience across all devices is very important.

Knowing this, it becomes paramount to create easy-to-explore apps that don’t puzzle users. This article will discuss the 3 navigational combinations that will help you create a clutter-free interface for your users.

3 Ways You Can Improve Your Navigation for Better UX

1. Distinguish between list menu, top navigation, and bottom navigation

2. Create gesture-based navigation and actionable buttons

3. Understand the action button and pictorial circle menus

1. Distinguish Between List Menu, Top Navigation, and Bottom Navigation

Say you wish to build a platform that is essentially a provider of information, like a newspaper, a magazine, or a fitness guide. 

Employing this navigation combination can save you from intimidating users with too much information.

We studied The Hindu Magazine, which is an e-newspaper that covers live updates, in-depth coverage of politics, business, cricket, football, science, technology, environment, and arts.

We discovered that with the Hindu Magazine’s 3-way navigation system, this magazine’s app keeps users informed of any new development.

Below is a screenshot of the magazine and the 3-way navigation system it offers:

The Hindu Magazine


1. Hamburger Menu - The Hamburger Menu, on the top left, features as many as 30 categories like National, International, States, Sports, Entertainment, Society, Books, Life & Style, Sci & Technology, About Us, and Terms & Conditions. 

2. Top Bar Menu - The top navigation bar, below The Hindu logo, is populated with 17 of the most viewed segments that take users straight to the news they wish to read.

3. Bottom Bar Menu -The bottom menu bar is designed for users who are on the go. It takes them directly to trending news, multimedia (photos, videos, podcasts), and news quotes with a succinct headline. 

It is evident that integrating these three patterns allows designers to conceal extra information from the main screen while furnishing shortcuts to news synopses and detailed articles.

2. Create Gesture-Based Navigation and Actionable Buttons

The cellphone has experienced a continuing evolution. With a 5-inch screen that purely works on gestures, it is at the doorstep of yet another substantial technological leap. 

Gesture-driven mobile apps have the potential to impress. When used smartly, say like Tinder, they help obtain a large userbase. 

To understand gesture-driven features better, we looked at Paper App, a note and sketch app, to see how it is driven by gestures, action buttons, and grids. In this app, users can sketch and create personal notes using just their fingertips.

1. Swipe Gestures
The four primary actionable keys positioned at the bottom allow users to add, share, and delete notes. Users can also add extra pages to their grids (notebooks).

Sketches Paper App

Each grid is classified based on the nature of task - sketch, journals, tools, projects - and can be multiplied accordingly.

2. Actionable Buttons

These colorful notebooks open when tapped. The triple-dotted button displays options to add notes, click pictures, move pages, and duplicate them within the book.

Journal Pages

Luke Wroblewski’s study on gestures, involving 40 users from 9 different countries, drew attention to the differences in common touch-based tasks based on cultural differences and tech-savviness.

Gesture-based apps can make or break businesses.

For app makers willing to take a leap, it becomes crucial to understand your target audience and build impactful solutions.

3. Understand the Action Button and Pictorial Circle Menus

Did you know that...

  1. Human eyes process entire images in just 13 milliseconds
  2. It takes users 10 seconds to conjure up a brand’s image?
  3. Nearly all (94%) first impressions are design-related?
  4. Over three-quarters of B2B marketing leaders (77%) believe branding is crucial for a company’s growth?
  5. It takes users 5-7 brand impressions before they remember your brand?

Little does it matter if you’re an enterprise or a budding start-up. Grabbing the invaluable attention of the customer is a priority to all. 

How do you then to leave a lasting impression? Enter the pictorial menu, which highlights your brand’s identity.

Pictorial menus give entrepreneurs, designers, and developers a free hand to flaunt their artistic skills and quirky brand personality via engaging graphics.

For example, the Words with Friends 2 game does exactly this. The menu has clickable graphics which best portray the app’s playfully creative side, something users easily identify with.  

Words with Friends Interface

People intuitively know what the game's buttons mean because of their pictorial descriptions, which makes Words with Friends easier to navigate. 

On the other hand, we have Instagram that uses an unambiguous bottom menu with an actionable button right in the middle of the bar. 

Instagram Feed

Here, clearly etched out icons enable users to intuitively check out the features without having to invest a great deal of time.

The (+) in the middle of the bar is positioned to ensure smoother thumb reachability. Users can add, select, and reposition single or multiple photos and videos from their gallery.

Navigation is extremely important to an app's usability, and businesses should invest in developing their navigation before releasing their app to the public. 

Make Your Navigation Optimized for Users

By understanding how your users see and read a web page, businesses will have a greater chance of engaging people. Making your design intuitive increases the chances of a user staying on your page and exploring more services.  

Now that you’ve got a gist of how navigation patterns can create a pleasant user experience, get started and tip the scale in favor of optimized user experience.

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