Is fixed sidebars for social media, contact info etc good UX?


#1

Hi!

I’m a newly graduate and just started working with front-end design and UX. I do not have the most experience with UX in “real life”, obviously, and my boss just asked me if we could have a fixed/sticky sidebar on our website with our business’s contact information. <- We are currently refurbishing our website

I know that fixed navigation bars can enhance the users UX, but I am not sure about fixed sidebars. I personally hate sticky bars, as I feel they are making sites look cluttered… I think that there might be some research on this, but I haven’t found it. I know that fixed navbars usually are good UX, but I have a hunch of that sidebars aren’t.

Therefore I want to ask you if you know of any research papers or what you yourself feel about these sticky sidebars? English is not my native language, as you might understand of my writing. Hope you can understand me well enough to maybe give me your opinion/answer(s). :smile:

Example of sidebar below:
Picture of fixed sidebar


#2

YOU are the designer, not your boss (I presume). What you can do is work with your boss so that he/she is letting you know WHAT they need, not how they need it. So in this case: “we need users to able to contact us easily”. Then you can design the best solution and show him/her how it fulfills that need. And if you can’t find research, see if you can do your own user testing on multiple concepts. Then you have evidence you can argue with.

I guess it depends on the site, but overall I agree that too much sticky stuff makes a mess. If you already have a sticky nav bar, you can find a way of incorporating a contact mechanism in there.


#3

You are correct. I am the designer, not the boss. I have two bosses I have to “manage” at this point. I’ve just had a talk with my boss that we can keep the design of our header the same (as we are not doing a full re-design, only a refurbish), but that I really would like to make the header fixed. It is not today. Therefore I might be having troubles trying to make him change his mind regarding changes of the header design. We already have contact page linked in the header, and the header isn’t really spacious at the time being.

Anyhow, I would like to thank you for you comment. I guess I just need to find the right words and some real proof before I argument further. As a new employee, it isn’t always easy to stand against wishes from bosses. :smiley:


#4

I appreciate that it can be difficult to ‘manage’ a boss. I’ve found it helpful to reword their demands as a customer-centric “ask”, so if boss asks for a contact button on a sticky sidebar, I may say “So, you would like our customers to always have a means of getting to the contact page?”. That steps them back to look at the problem to be solved, then you can offer your “alternate” solution, and be prepared to back it up. Knowing basic design principles and why they’re important is your best defense, in this case, cognitive load seems like a good argument.

You may be new, but remember, they hired you for what you can do AND who you are. In the end, everyone wants a happy customer, and if you have a way to accomplish that they may not have considered, feel confident in offering it.


#5

You could also take the route of talking to a few users and get their feedback. If they are opposed to it for any reason you have what you need to go back to your boss.


#6

i agree with patrickstern get some feedback from user coz your boss is not your user.


#7

Thanks for your input :slight_smile: We decided to not have a fixed sidebar at this moment. I would like to test it someday, but at this point I’m actually not allowed to test this with our users.


#9

sounds like a generally bad idea. “I know where contact information is located and I can access it if required. But i do not need to see it at all times as it takes up valuable space”