Should this site navigation change to sidebar?


Discourse introduced a sidebar navigation last year and I've seen it across a number of sites.

The sidebar is explained at Try out the new sidebar and notification menus! - announcements - Discourse Meta

Do you have a preference?

  • Sidebar
  • Header dropdown

0 voters

I'll admit it probably doesn't matter too much to existing users, but I do want to do whatever is easiest for new users. If one is slightly better than the other for new users I'd consider it a change worth making.

I've included some screenshots below.



Sidebar closed:

Sidebar open:

The current 'Header dropdown' popup/overlay navigation

by comparison the current 'header dropdown' navigation.

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The "explanation" that I found says:

Today we’re introducing a new sidebar and a new notifications menu into Discourse to help you and your community members find and focus on what is most important to you.

The new sidebar lets you customize your navigation so you can get to your favorite parts of your community, and the new notifications menu that lets you more easily decide which of your notifications deserve your attention now and which ones can be dismissed or be saved for later.

I think this description is rather vague, and I didn't find much more information by reading the 20 or so first posts in that discussion thread. On your screenshots, the sidebar looks like a one-column version of the current menu, moved to the left. But from reading some of the discussion on the Discourse thread the side bar seems to be more than that.

Due to that (IMHO) rather little information, I can't really tell if I'd like the sidebar more. From what I know so far, I don't have a strong opinion, but at least I have some experience with the old menu now. :wink: So I'm undecided if I should stick with what we have or potentially get something better.

My understanding is that whether the old menu or the sidebar is used, is a global admin-level setting in the sense that I can't personally switch back to the menu if I prefer it. Is this correct?


It seems to me that the sidebar is meant for larger Discourses where the number of categories have grown so large, that it is hard to navigate.

The Racket discourse has few categories and a limited number of new posts per day, so I prefer to keep the current interface.

Visit the Swift forum to see how they use the sidebar:


That actually looks rather nice, but without creating an account I can't tell how the per-user configuration looks like, which would be an important aspect.

So I still can't decide. :smiley:

You can choose categories and tags to feature in your own personal sidebar:


I don't use the current "old menu" since it's hidden out of the way, I usually browse by clicking the boxes at the top of the home page.

I expect I would use the sidebar if we had it. So for me it would be more useful than the old menu.

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Now that the categories no longer fit in a single screen, I think it would a good idea either to enable the menu or to make the icons smaller.

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I think the icons were a mistake so I’ve removed all but RacketScript as it is below the fold anyway

In my browser the shown (default?) categories were "Languages" and "RacketScript" (which I removed and replaced with other categories :wink: ).

What's below the fold should depend on the device / size of the browser window, shouldn't it? :slight_smile:

The sidebar looks pretty nice. Good idea. :slight_smile:

Thanks for the smileys.

I hope I haven’t messed up the ux too much.

I might try again with if I can make a style sheet change to render the icons a little smaller.


Don't worry.

On my Linux desktop and my smartphone the icon size looks fine.

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