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Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Hal Shubin <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 6 Sep 2005 08:50:05 -0400
text/plain (105 lines)
I recently asked: "Does anyone have any examples or experience with 
Web sites that let users hide/show a left-side navigation bar? Click 
something and the nav bar goes away; click again and it appears..."

I got some examples, a little feedback about user reactions and some 
code (which I used in my prototype).

Thanks, all.

                                         -- hs

From: "mark mojdehi" <[log in to unmask]>

Not sure that I'd call it a best practice, but Shaun Inman has 
tackled this issue in his redesign. I think it's hiding too much, but 
it is visually interesting.

Have a look at:

From: Paola Kathuria <[log in to unmask]>

I have an example above hiding horizontal nav, rather than a side bar.

My Colour Selector includes links to other tools and pages as well as 
information about the current page at the top of the page.

There are [minimise header] and [maximise header] links. The minimise 
function reduces the header by 6 lines (about 150px).

I know from my logs that visitors use the minimise option and keep it 
on for the remainder of their visit.

Also, viewing our sites using the print style sheet is a way of 
making all the site navigation go away.


From: Francois Jordaan <[log in to unmask]>

The best example I can think of is on Sitepoint, e.g.

I think it works here because (1) it's a geeky site, read by 
experienced web users, where a bit of DHTML showing off is entirely 
appropriate, and (2) the navigation menu in question is very big, 
showing 2 tiers by default.

Usually, though, I'd advise against it. Besides potentially confusing 
naive users with the interface, you have these very convincing 
arguments from Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think! (especially points 2, 3, 4, 5)

From: sacha pearson <[log in to unmask]>

Hi -
Check out eBay's new beta selling form > 

They use a hideable right column for help. I no longer work for eBay 
but I do know it performed very well in formal usability tests. Not 
sure how it's doing in the 'real world'.

From: michelle <[log in to unmask]>

I like the way the wiki web application, JotSpot, shows and hides its 
navigation bar. [Actually, ] the hide/show functionality is part of 
the webapp, not the web site.  And it's not a nav bar, it's a toolbar.

From: "Mary Utt" <[log in to unmask]>

We did a rough prototype here that did what you are looking for. 
While we did no testing, it seemed to go over well. There were 
problems but I don't think the left-hand nav bar was one of them. I 
think people liked that a lot.

I think the most important thing is that it is obvious and easy to 
get the nav bar back after you've hidden it. We used an icon that 
pointed to the left for hiding the nav bar. Once it was hidden, the 
icon changed to point to the right for showing it again.

We also provided a way for users to simply shrink but not hide the 
nav bar. This way, you get more data space but can still see (some 
of) the nav bar. I think this would be best done by dragging the nav 
bar (we used buttons to shrink and expand it incrementally).

Hope this helps. 

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