Mobile Navigation Design: Top 10 Example & Guide for App Design

Top 10 mobile navigation design examples & guide

Reading Time: 13 minutes
10 best mobile navigation designs and best practices

Mobile devices are part of our lives now. And so is the way we move around on mobile apps! Most people use their phones for about 3.25 hours a day, making mobile navigation design an important aspect of the tech industry.

Quality in mobile app navigation doesn’t only make it easier for the user. It also helps them feel satisfied, increasing engagement.

Hence, businesses must have user-friendly mobile responsive designs, including well-thought-out mobile navigation.

In this article, we’ll explore the 10 best mobile navigation designs that are currently trending and will explain why these navigation designs are best and how they improve the user experience.

So, let’s dive deeper to figure out what makes these styles a top pick for creators and designers alike.

But first, let’s have a quick look at the mobile navigation designs!

Mobile navigation design

Mobile navigation refers to the UI elements designed to help users navigate and interact with content on mobile devices. 

It plays a crucial role in facilitating user journeys within mobile applications, allowing users to move between different sections, access features and find information efficiently.

Now, let’s understand the need for User Research in mobile navigation.

User research: Understanding user’s behaviour and preferences

Effective mobile navigation design goes beyond aesthetics; your design must resonate with users’ preferences and behaviours to truly enhance their experience.

This necessitates a deep understanding of user behaviour and preferences through comprehensive user research. 

User research serves as the foundation for creating navigation systems that align with users’ needs and expectations.

By gathering insights into how users interact with mobile apps, you can make informed decisions to optimise navigation for usability and engagement.

Factors to consider during user research

1. User demographics

Understand the demographics of your target audience, such as age, gender, occupation and cultural background to tailor your navigation styles to match their preferences and behaviours.

For example- Gen Z users may prefer trendy navigation styles like swipe gestures or bottom navigation bars, while Millennial users may favour traditional options like tab bars or hamburger menus.

2. User Habits

You can get insightful information by watching how users interact with their mobile apps daily. Watch their behaviour to understand their habit and to identify the best way to create seamless mobile app navigation.

For example- Regular users might like shortcuts and quick navigations to get their work done on apps, whereas users who visit apps occasionally might need more simplified navigational ways to find out what they are looking for.

3. Device Usage Pattern

Users interact differently with different devices like smartphones, tablets or wearables. You can analyse the data of their usage pattern to design navigation centred around your users, making it user-friendly and engaging.

For example- Smartphone users might need one-handed navigation options. These would be different from a tablet user or someone with limited options on wearable devices.


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10 Best mobile navigation designs

1. Bottom navigation bars mobile design

Bottom Navigation Bars Mobile Design

The bottom navigation bar is a design that places the primary app actions at the bottom of the screen. 

This design is popular because it’s easily accessible with one hand and doesn’t interfere with the content on the screen.

It’s also a great option for websites with a lot of navigation options, as it allows for easy scrolling through the options without taking up too much space on the screen, ensuring a seamless and ergonomic experience.

For example- Google Maps uses a bottom navigation bar. It gives quick access to features like directions, explore and saved locations.


Single-Handed Use: Facilitates effortless interaction for users on the go.
Consistent Visibility: Maintains a constant presence, allowing users to easily access vital features.


Space Limitations: This may be restrictive for apps with an extensive range of functionalities.
Choosing the Right Options: Selecting the right icons and labels needs careful thought to make the features clear and understandable.


Prioritize Essential Actions: Limit the number of icons to key functions.
Icon Clarity: Ensure icons are instantly recognizable to enhance usability.

2. Hamburger menus with a ‘Twist’

Hamburger Menu Mobile Navigation

Hamburger Menus with a Twist” refers to a creative and innovative approach to the classic hamburger menu design commonly found in mobile applications. 

The traditional hamburger menu is typically represented by three horizontal lines stacked on top of each other, resembling a hamburger. 

It is a common design choice to hide menu options and declutter the interface, revealing them when users click or tap on the icon.

The “Twist” in this context implies the infusion of dynamic elements or unique styles into the conventional hamburger menu design. 

Designers may introduce animated transitions, vibrant colours or distinctive icons to add an engaging visual element. 

The goal is to make the menu not only functional but also visually appealing and memorable, enhancing the overall user experience.

For example- The Facebook app features a hamburger menu in the top-right corner, allowing users to access various features and settings.


Visual Appeal: Captivates user attention with engaging design elements.
Screen Optimization: Hides menu options to maintain a clean interface when not in use.


Discoverability Challenge: Users may overlook hidden features initially.
Slow User Journey: Requires an extra tap to access navigation options, potentially slowing down the user’s journey.


Subtle Animations: Employ animations to provide feedback and guide user interactions.
Icon Originality: Experiment with unique icons for a distinctive touch.

3. Gesture-based mobile navigation

Gesture Based Mobile App Navigation  UI Design
Image Source

Gesture-based navigation relies on touch interactions such as swipes and pinches, providing an intuitive and immersive user experience. 

By mirroring real-world actions, it enhances user engagement and brings a natural flow to digital interactions.

For example- The iOS Photos app uses gestures like pinch-to-enlarge and swipe to move between pictures or albums.


Intuitive Interactions: Mimics real-world gestures, enhancing user understanding.
Screen Maximization: Utilizes the entire screen for a focused and immersive experience.


Learning Curve: Users may require time to adapt to gesture-based controls.
Undesirable Operations: System-level gestures might interfere with the app gestures causing mix-ups or undesired operations.


Onboarding Tutorial: Include a user-friendly tutorial to guide users through gesture controls.
Gesture Clarity: Ensure gestures are intuitive and easy to execute.

4. Tabbed mobile navigation design

Tabbed Navigation Menu Design

Tabbed Navigation organizes content into tabs, facilitating seamless transitions between different sections. 

This design, characterized by its simplicity and straightforwardness, is particularly effective for apps with diverse content.

For example- In the Spotify mobile app, tabs are used to navigate between different sections, each tab representing a distinct category or feature, allowing users to easily access various functionalities with a single tap.


Content Organization: Tabs provide a structured approach to organizing diverse content.
Quick Transitions: Users can effortlessly switch between sections with minimal effort.


Screen Space Consumption: Tabs can occupy a significant portion of the screen.
Overcrowding- Too many tabs or tabs with lengthy titles can lead to overcrowding on smaller screens, challenging users to navigate easily. 


Prioritize Key Tabs: Limit the number of tabs to prioritize essential sections.
Icon Consistency: Maintain visual consistency in tab icons for user familiarity.

5. Floating action buttons (FAB)

Floating Action Button Mobile UI Design
Image Source

Floating Action Buttons (FABs) are circular buttons that serve as a focal point for primary actions within an app. 

Their design adds an element of elegance and ensures quick access to essential functions.

These floating menus stay in a fixed position on the screen, even when the user scrolls down the page. 

It is popular because it allows for easy access to the navigation options at all times.

It’s also a great option for websites with a lot of navigation options, as it allows for easy scrolling through the options without taking up too much space on the screen.

For example- The Gmail app contains a floating action bar for creating fresh emails. This empowers users to start their tasks from any in-app screen.


Elegance: Introduces a sophisticated touch to the user interface.
Primary Action Focus: Keeps core actions prominently accessible.


Limited Functionality: Suited for primary actions, may not accommodate a variety of functions.
Causes Interruptions: Clashes attention with other interface parts, potentially causing interruptions.


Clear Hierarchy: Reserve FABs for crucial actions, maintaining a clear hierarchy.
Design Harmony: Ensure the FAB aligns with the overall visual aesthetics of the application.


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6. Full-screen navigation overlays

Full-Screen Mobile Navigation Overlays
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Full-screen navigation overlays create an immersive experience by displaying navigation options across the entire screen. 

This design choice is characterized by its ability to captivate user attention and enhance overall engagement.

For example- In the Instagram app, tapping the navigation icon reveals a full-screen menu for accessing profiles, exploring, notifications, etc. This design keeps the interface clean while providing easy access to features.


Immersive Interface: Engages users fully by taking over the entire screen.
Aesthetic Appeal: Adds a visually pleasing overlay for an enhanced user experience.


Potential Distraction: This may divert the attention of users from underlying content.
Reduced Screen Space for Navigation: Overlaying navigation in full screen means less space for displaying content, impacting overall usability and readability.


Subtle Transparency: Maintain a degree of transparency to ensure visibility of underlying content.
Clear Exit Option: Include a straightforward mechanism to close the full-screen overlay.

7. Navigation rail mobile design

Navigation Rail Mobile UI UX Design
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Navigation Rail is a streamlined and vertical navigation system typically positioned along the edge of a screen, offering users a consistent and easily accessible menu. 

It provides a clear pathway for users to navigate between different sections or features within an application. 

The navigation rail often houses icons or labels representing various destinations, ensuring users have a visual guide to easily move through the app’s interface.

For example- Google’s Material Design, particularly in their suite of productivity apps like Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar employs navigation rail mobile design.

In Google’s mobile apps, the navigation rail typically appears as a vertical bar positioned on the left side of the screen, providing quick access to primary navigation options.


Consistent Access: Provides persistent and consistent access to essential features.
Efficient Navigation: Streamlines user interactions with a simplified, vertical menu.


Space Utilization: This may occupy a portion of the screen, potentially limiting available space for content.
Reduced Visibility of Navigation Options: It is difficult to accommodate a large number of items without sacrificing visibility which can be challenging for apps with extensive navigation hierarchies.


Icon Clarity: Ensure icons or labels are easily recognizable for efficient usability.
Customization Options: Consider providing users with the option to customize the navigation rail based on their preferences.

8. Card-style mobile navigation design

Card-Style Mobile Navigation Design

Card-Style Navigation introduces a visually appealing and organized approach to presenting information in a modular format. 

Each card acts as a self-contained unit, allowing for a structured display of content that enhances both aesthetics and user comprehension.

For example- Pinterest employs a card-based layout to showcase various pins and content categories in card format.

Users can scroll through these cards vertically to explore different pins or horizontally to browse within specific categories.


Visual Appeal: Enhances aesthetics with a modular and organized display.
Content Digestibility: Presents information in bite-sized, easily digestible portions.


Potential Clutter: Requires careful design to prevent information overload.
Complexity in Information Hierarchy: It can complicate information hierarchy, especially with multiple levels or categories, potentially causing user confusion, particularly in content-rich apps.


Consistent Card Design: Maintain visual consistency for a cohesive look.
Prioritize Information: Use cards to highlight essential information and maintain a clean design.

9. Search bar: Primary navigation element

Search Bar-Primary Navigation Mobile UI Design
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Placing the search bar as a primary navigation element simplifies user journeys, especially in content-heavy applications. 

This design choice prioritizes quick access to search functionality, streamlining user interactions and ensuring efficient content discovery.

For example- Amazon prominently features a search bar at the top of its mobile app, allowing users to quickly search for products across categories, providing a convenient shopping experience.


Efficient Search: Offers immediate access to powerful search functionality.
User-Centric Design: Prioritizes user intent, enhancing overall navigation.


Space Considerations: Requires thoughtful integration to avoid dominating the interface.
Overlooking Content Hierarchy: Relying on a search bar navigation may overlook the need for clear content hierarchy and paths, leading to user confusion.


Prominent Placement: Position the search bar prominently for easy access.
Instant Feedback: Provide real-time feedback during the search for a responsive experience.

10. Contextual and dynamic navigation

Contextual and Dynamic Mobile Navigation Design

Contextual Navigation:

This navigation refers to the adaptive presentation of navigation options based on the specific context or content the user is currently engaging with.

Example: In an e-commerce website, if a user is browsing a category of products, the contextual navigation might include filters specific to that category (e.g., size, colour). 

As the user moves to the checkout process, the navigation adapts to display options relevant to completing the purchase (e.g., cart, payment).

Dynamic Navigation:

Dynamic navigation involves interfaces that change and adjust in real time based on user interactions, preferences, or data inputs.

Example: A news website with dynamic navigation might show personalized content recommendations based on the user’s past reading habits. 

Alternatively, an application might dynamically update its menu options or layout based on the user’s role or permissions.


Personalization: Tailor navigation based on user behaviour and preferences.
Efficiency: Streamlines user journeys by presenting relevant options.


Complex Development: Requires robust backend infrastructure for dynamic adaptations.
Inconsistency: Create inconsistency in user experiences as options change based on actions or app states, potentially hindering usability.


User Profiles: Implement user profiles to enhance contextual understanding.
Feedback Mechanisms: Collect user feedback to continually refine dynamic navigation.

Each of these mobile navigation designs has its pros and cons. Your selection should depend on factors like the app’s content layout, users’ preferences, design targets, etc.

By meticulously examining the requirements of users and businesses, choose the navigation style that is intuitive, efficient, and user-friendly.

Importance of mobile navigation design

Mobile navigation design is essential for creating a user-friendly experience on a website, a key aspect of UI UX Design.

With the rise of smartphone usage, websites must have a mobile navigation menu design that is easy to use and navigate on a smaller screen.

This necessitates conducting usability testing to ensure the design meets users’ needs and expectations.

A well-designed mobile navigation menu can improve the overall user experience, increase engagement, and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates. 

It also helps keep users on the site longer, as they can easily find the information they need without getting frustrated.

Let’s dive deeper into the importance of mobile navigation designs:

1. Enhanced User Experience: A well-designed mobile navigation contributes to a positive user experience by making it easy for users to find what they’re looking for and complete tasks efficiently.

Consider the Hamburger Menu. Many designers use this mobile app navigation because it uncovers a tucked-away menu with just one tap. This keeps the main screen neat and boosts the usability of the UI UX design.

2. Intuitive Interaction: Mobile navigation, when designed intuitively, aligns with users’ mental models, making it easier for them to understand and predict how to navigate within an application.

3. Accessibility: A clear and accessible navigation ensures that users with varying levels of digital literacy can interact with the app effectively.

4. Increased Engagement: An efficient mobile app navigation keeps users engaged by reducing friction in accessing features or content on the app, contributing to higher user retention and increased engagement.

Consider apps like Instagram or YouTube. They have well-designed bottom navigation bars.

These bars let users switch between tabs easily and access core functions, increasing the average session duration of the apps.

5. Efficient Task Completion: Users can accomplish their goals quickly and with minimal effort when the navigation is streamlined and user-friendly.

6. User Satisfaction: When users can easily navigate an app and find what they need, it increases satisfaction and a positive perception of the application.

7. Better Conversion Rates: A well-planned UI UX design navigation system guides users to take specific actions, leading them to the end of the conversion stage.

Take the example of Amazon, a popular e-commerce marketplace that uses obvious button commands and clean routes to make users’ shopping experience smooth, leading to increased purchases.

Key components of mobile app navigation

1. Menus: Various types of menus, such as hamburger menus, tab bars, bottom navigation bars, etc provide a structured way to organize and access different sections of an app.

2. Buttons: Interactive buttons guide users to perform specific actions, helping them initiate processes or transitions.

3. Search Bars: These search bars enable users to quickly find specific content or information within an app.

4. Gestures: Touch gestures, like swiping or pinching, offer intuitive ways for users to navigate through screens or interact with content.

You may also like to read about: Popular UI UX Design Tools Revolutionising Design in 2024.

How to choose the right mobile navigation design?

When choosing a mobile navigation design for your website, it is essential to consider the following factors:

1. The number of navigation options: If your website has a lot of navigation options, choose a design that allows for easy scrolling or categorization, such as the mega menu or accordion menu.

2. User experience: The design should be user-friendly and easy to use, regardless of the device being used.

3. Screen space: Consider the amount of space the navigation menu will take up on the screen. If your website has a lot of content, use a design that takes up minimal space, such as the hamburger menu or bottom navigation bar.

4. Branding: The design should align with your brand’s aesthetic and overall design.

5. Functionality: Consider the functionality of the design and how it will work with your website’s content and layout.

Also, avoid these Mobile App Navigation Design mistakes to craft a user-friendly experience.

Best practices for implementing mobile navigation designs

Mobile navigation designs need a thoughtful approach. Consider these five key points for creating smooth navigation in mobile apps, focusing on user-friendliness and accessibility.

  1. Consistency is Key: 

Keep the navigation design the same across the entire app to make users feel comfortable.

Use the same position, style and operation patterns for navigational items to boost app usage.

  1. Prioritize Accessibility: 

Navigational items need to be usable by everyone, including people with disabilities or impairments.

Add things like good colour contrast, sizeable text and screen reader support to improve accessibility and make the app more user-friendly for everyone.

  1. Straightforward Mobile App Navigation Paths: 

Make navigation paths direct to reduce the effort needed to complete specific tasks.

Focus on important features and content, without distracting users with unnecessary choices.

  1. Optimize for One-Handed Use: 

Create a navigation design that users can access with one hand. This is especially important for larger gadgets where reaching all parts of the screen can be tough.

Keep the important tabs within easy thumb reach to improve user convenience.

  1. Looks matter: 

Good visual design principles can help create attractive and engaging navigation interfaces.

Easy-to-understand icons, suitable typography and appropriate spacing can guide users effectively and show them all their available navigation options.

By using the above-mentioned best practices to create mobile navigation styles, you can create a user-friendly and easy-to-navigate interface, improving the overall user experience.


In conclusion, it’s all about navigation styles!

A well-designed mobile navigation menu is crucial for creating a user-friendly experience, requiring thoughtful UI development to ensure its effectiveness.

They make a big difference in how we use apps. Handy tab bar navigation, swipe gestures that feel natural—each has its perks for how an app works and keeps users engaged.

When building apps, making user-friendly navigation is a big win. Sticking to top tips, taking onboard suggestions and always making navigation better means every tap and swipe makes the app run smoother and keeps users satisfied.

The 10 best mobile navigation designs mentioned in this article are currently trending in the tech world and can help improve the overall user experience, increase engagement and ultimately lead to higher conversion rates.

From the ergonomic accessibility of Bottom Navigation Bars to the creative twists in Hamburger Menus, each design approach prioritizes user satisfaction and efficiency. 

The mentioned mobile navigation design emphasises that well-crafted navigation is not just about functionality, it’s a pathway to seamless interactions and immersive digital journeys.

Consider the factors pointed out in our blog when choosing the right navigation design for your apps, or contact our mobile app design company to create user-friendly navigation for your mobile apps. By integrating effective navigation into your mobile app development process, you ensure a more engaging and efficient user experience.

Read our other blogs:

10 Best Dashboard Designs to Watch in 2024

10 Best Data Grid Designs Shaping UI UX Trend

20 Best Clean Website Designs to Watch for in 2024


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Creative Director and Founder of Octet Design Studio- Aakash Jethwani
Aakash Jethwani

With an experience of 12+ years and serving more than 300+ projects, he is now leading a team of 25+ designers and developers and handling responsibility as founder and creative director at Octet Design Studio.

A design leader, known for creating and offering pixel-perfect design by striking a balance between design and technology to his clients while also managing his team and business.

His vision is to help companies disrupt market through designs and becoming a go-to partner for innovation. With a commitment to deep implementation of design strategies, he envisions pioneering innovative solutions to not only transforms businesses but also make it an essential requirement for the clients seeking unparalleled excellence.

His ultimate goal is to offer ‘experiences as a differentiator’ to clients seeking sustainable growth in the competitive digital landscape.

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