Understanding The Concept of Off-canvas Menu Design

The off-canvas menu design has been increasingly becoming a much sought-after design pattern for many websites. The design is gaining popularity as the primary navigation pattern that looks great on both mobile as well as desktop layouts. It’s a much strategic way of maintaining context while giving a required level of information and a sense of satisfaction to the visitor.

The design pattern is often used to create some additional space in mobile layouts. These menus are positioned outside the viewport and slide in as and when they are activated. By this we mean, whenever the user clicks on an icon or execute any action for example- swapping from one direction to another, this results in a vertical navigation, which slides from the screen to give form to the off-canvas menu.

The icon used in the off-canvas menu is referred as “navicon”, mainly featuring three stacked lines. The navicon is also popular as “hamburger menu icon” because of its design imitating the look of the outlines of hamburger.

Although, it’s not always mandatory to use navicon for activating the functioning of off-canvas menu; instead, users can also click on the button (which is a much straightforward way) with a provided title “Menu” to play around the off-canvas menu. It’s a more convenient way and even considered a much logical step to perform A/B Testing especially for those companies which deal with web publication.

Why You Need Off-canvas Layouts?

There have been a range of surveys and researches done on discovering the common ways of adapting design on a web page effectively. Across all these patterns, catering the needs of smaller screens becomes prominent. Owing to the limited space on mobile devices, the only way to fit an information is to stack it up, which used to give a messy appearance to the web page. This is the point where designers actually started realizing the need of a space which is not only open, but relevant enough to provide adequate information to the users.

Going off-canvas is the only way to achieve this goal. On the desktop, designers rarely work on off-canvas- they don’t need it much. But, in the mobile space, off-canvas is indeed a state-of-the-art concept. It opens up new designing opportunities. And, as just like exploring something unexplored, it provides avenues for those who are willing to experiment with some groundbreaking techniques just to provide a higher level of satisfaction to their users.

Another reason for using off-canvas menu is that it looks and feels natural. Since, the design allows the user to move something to the side, without hampering what the they are actually doing, is an extremely innovative action to ensure convenience to them. It’s just like reading a newspaper, flipping to its various sections while not losing the grip of the page we intended to read thoroughly. Off-canvas saves user time and spot so that they can go back and indulge with whatever they were doing previously.

Since, users are most distracted on mobile, maintaining an optimum level of context becomes challenging for the designers. In the absence of off-canvas, users are forced to scroll up and down, and content is presented as per the designer’s will. Scroll bar, which provides direction to the user, are generally not designed properly, due to which navigating back onto the previous section becomes difficult. As context is prominent and is extremely helpful in mapping out the content, off-canvas creates wonders on that. It provides a facility to provide an array of information without distracting the user.

Conditions When Off-canvas Design Should Be Used

As per the standard rule, off-canvas menu design is generally used on responsive websites which need to display a lot of links which wouldn’t otherwise fit on the conventional horizontal style menus. To understand it better, let us discuss about some of the cases where off-canvas design can be easily implemented.

1. Menus Containing Multiple Links

For most of the users the top horizontal bar is the most known or familiar type of navigation menu. They are more used to using such kind of menus, and often look convenient to them who are not accustomed to use touch screen devices. There are some website designs where space is much more needed to display information, off-canvas menu is a good option there.

Below is the example of a website using off-canvas menu

One Page Love

2. Menus Having Multiple Categories

Websites designing both vertical and horizontal style menus provide a much organized way for displaying information to the users. It’s a quick and easy way of maintaining categories, while not losing the grip on the provided information.

Below is the example of a website with both horizontal and vertical navigation


Wrapping Up

Off-canvas menu is a great way of adding an edge to a design, especially catered for the mobile devices. It ensures a higher level of satisfaction and website maintainability.

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Written by Sarah

Sarah Parker loves blogging and is one of the best PSD to Wordpress theme convertor by profession. As of now, she is serving at Designs2html Ltd., a rumored name in the markup conversion services around the globe. She is constantly enthused about imparting data identified with most recent web patterns.

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