Do you know that more than 86.7 billion apps were downloaded in 2020? Whether it is entertainment or business, the app is a must-to-have for any corporate. When it comes to the quick downloads, Google Play and Apple App Store there are thousands of apps available, however, not all apps are of the same quality.

App navigation is one of the key characteristics that define app quality. With navigation as the backbone of the app, it is a lot more when researched in detail. Let us help you understand all about app navigation using our complete guide. Let us start by understanding what navigation is all about?

What Is Navigation?

What Is Navigation

Navigating or moving from one place to another in the apps is an important daily task for many users. Whether it is moving from one page to another or searching the important content on the app, navigation makes it easy for the users to have an improved digital experience. When it comes to the technology side, there is a lot more to dive into navigation. Let us start with the different types of navigation.

Types Of Navigation

There are different types of navigation that can help the user move between the different app screens. These types of navigation are implemented using platform affordability, embedding navigation behavior into content, and different navigation components.

The main types of navigation include: 

types of navigational directions

Navigational Direction

There are three different directions in which users can move based on the information architecture of any app. These three navigational directions include:

1. Lateral Navigation

It indicates the movement between the screens that are in the same hierarchy. Any app’s main navigation component must provide access to all destinations at the top levels of its hierarchy. It enables quick access to features and shifting between different items of a set.

lateral navigation example

It is easy for the user to forward navigate the access to any app using music app in two different ways:

  1. It can be completed hierarchically from the music album to a particular song.
  2. Searching from the song and navigating directly by bypassing screens in the hierarchy.
lateral navigation app example

It is easy for the users to reverse navigate the app in the following two ways:

  1. Upward in the hierarchy to the album or song’s parent containing the song.
  2. It chronologically connects to the search results screen in case the user just navigated to a song from the app screen.

Just like the app’s primary navigation component should offer access to all destinations, at the hierarchy top level. Apps having multiple top-level destinations can offer lateral navigation using the bottom navigation bar, navigation drawer, etc.

ComponentUse ForDestinationsDevices
Bottom navigation barTop-level destinations3-5Mobile
Navigation drawerTop-level destinations5+Tablet, Mobile Desktop
TabsAny level of hierarchy2+Tablet, Mobile Desktop

Navigation drawers are ideal for five or more top-level destinations and can be accessed for a consistent navigation experience. Bottom navigation bars offer access to three to five destinations on mobile devices, visibility, location, persistence, etc., allowing quick pivoting between different destinations. Further, these tabs can be used at any level of an app’s hierarchy to offer two or more peer data sets.

Navigation drawers
Navigation Drawers
Bottom navigation bars
Bottom navigation bars
two or more sets of data across screen
Two or more sets of data across the screen
top level navigation
Top-level navigation

2. Forward Navigation

Forward navigation has three movement types between screens of any app to complete the task. These movements include:

  • Downward: It allows deep content access from a parent screen from a child screen.
  • Sequential: It allows navigation through a sequential or an ordered sequence of screens like any checkout process.
  • Direct: It allows direct navigation from one screen to another app.

The implementation of forwarding navigation is embedded into the screen’s content using different components. Hence, it can be implemented using links within content, in-app search on one or more screens, buttons that advance to another screen, and content containers like image lists, lists, cards, etc.

Tap to navigate to the full note
Tap to navigate to the full note
flow through Buttons
Flow-Through Buttons
Search and quickly access screens anywhere
Search and Quickly Access Screens Anywhere

3. Reverse Navigation

It refers to the backward movement between different screens. It helps move chronologically through screen history or upwards through an app hierarchy. It is important to prioritize the user experience in reverse navigation by returning the users to the prior screen position and state to speed up task resumption or information recall. It must offer a clear messaging if the screen’s prior state is not available in events of information clearing for privacy. Further, any reverse navigation must indicate the child screen’s relationship with screens above it in the hierarchy.

Convert Your App Idea Into Reality

Let’s Build A New App Together

1. Reverse Chronological Navigation

It indicates the app navigation in reverse order using the app’s history. It can help users move between multiple apps, e.g., the back button on a web browser. The reverse chronological navigation is provided by the operating platform that further defines its movement and accesses its functionality.

navigate recently viewed screens
Reverse Chronological Navigation
2. Upward Reverse Navigation

It allows users to navigate one level up in the single app’s hierarchy model. It works until the top-level screen or home screen is reached e.g., up arrow in the top bar. The upward navigation should be implemented on all child screens that further follow the platform guidance. It is achieved in iOS apps by using the back button and by using the material up action using Android and web apps.

Upward navigation
Upward navigation

What Is Mobile Navigation?

What Is Mobile Navigation

Jumping from one screen to other can be a simple example of quick navigation. When it comes to mobile navigation, it is the process by which users move from one point to another point in the application. It can be defined as the road system for the app that further makes the background of the strong app. Mobile navigation should be quick, effortless, and supports the seamless transition.

Best Practices For Mobile Navigation

Now, let’s go through some top mobile navigation practices to make it easy for users to Any bad mobile navigation may results in customers’ loss as good navigation boosts the usability of the apps. It becomes easy to locate different things and get the best out of the results of the design teams. Hence, it is important to go through the best practices of mobile navigation that can further make or break the app’s usability. A quick list of the top four mobile navigation good practices includes:

1. Navigation Needs to Be Evident and Intuitive

Navigation Needs To Be Clear & Intuitive (1)

The reduced space and increased interaction cost of the mobile devices make it important to make mobile navigation as evident and as intuitive as possible. From usability to the targeted users, it is important to go through the card sorting tests, carry out tree tests, and mental models. Hence, to cut things short, mobile navigation should work with customers instead of working against it.

2. Account For Finger & Hand Positioning

Account For Finger & Hand Positioning

No user wants to waste time in the sluggish finger or hand positioning as it can be distractive and frustrating. Hence, the links and buttons for any mobile navigation app should consider the ideal size of the fingers and hand positioning. Designers can go for the wonderful buttons that eliminate this small but powerful issue in the mobile app.

3. Content Needs to Be Legible

Legible Content

While content remains a king for mobile apps, it is important to make the content as legible as can be. It becomes important to go for the prototyping tools that offer realistic navigation simulation. It can be the best combination of the text-based and hamburger menu icon.

4. Avoid Clutter, Respect Visual Hierarchy

App Visual Hierarchy

The less is more- it is true for mobile navigation. There should be no clutter in the mobile apps that works ideally for the minimalism style of the user interface. The content must remain focused on a certain hierarchy, analyze the proximity of the elements, and allow enough space for the visual benefits.

Eight Ui Components for Mobile Navigation Apps

So, what does it take to make mobile navigation app a success? It is all in the user interface that further constitutes different components working together. The top eight user-interface components for mobile navigation apps include:

1. Hamburger Menu

Hamburger Menu

It has three little horizontal lines that are placed comfortably in the corner of the mobile app for quick access. The hamburger menu is a method of hiding elaborative navigation for offering more space to the users. Further, all leading designers have used the hamburger menu at least once in their projects.

2. Bottom Navigation

Bottom Navigation

The bottom navigation is a must-to-have bar for gathering primary and secondary navigation links. It offers quick navigation for mobile users with the help of thumbs. There is no need to grasp the device in other ways and reduces fatigue.

3. Top Navigation

Top Navigation

The navigation bar located at the top of the screen ensures that users can get the best of the mobile app careen while using both hands. It can quickly convey the important links to the users.

4. Cards

Cards

The UI cards are the modern trendsetters when it comes to effective app navigation. It becomes easy to aggregate different pieces of information using the different shapes and sizes. Further, it is easy to collaborate texts, links, photos, etc., in one place.

5. Tabs

Tabs

It contains rows of multiple options that lead to different pages on the app. The overlying theme of tabs helps switch between alternative themes within the same context. Tabs come under the same category as the navigation bars but have different functionalities.

6. Gesture-Based Navigation

One of the widely popular UI components, gesture-based navigation is setting the bar high for effective app navigation. The gestures like touching, dragging, swiping, zooming, etc., offer an unparalleled user experience that is dynamic and interactive. It becomes easy for the new bees to navigate on the app using gestures only.

7. Full-Screen Navigation

Full-Screen Navigation

It works ideally for the product sections that demand full-screen details. It is referred to as the “navigation hub” which is designed carefully using the visual hierarchy. It ensures immediate help for the users looking for detailed product features.

8. 3D Touch

The technical giant Apple has launched the 3D touch that offers direct options from the iPhone home screen. It offers a navigation shortcut that shows the range of options for the dedicated option on the screen. Leading the markets with the technology, 3D touch is now used in multiple smart devices that further allow the designers to include it in their app navigation. It further offers a good way of preview. 

Apple’s 3D touch Haptic Touch

What Are Navigation Transitions?

Navigation transition is the process of moving between different screens like moving from a home screen to a detailed screen. 

Navigation transitions use motion to guide the users between two different screens in the app. It uses movement to indicate the relation of elements to one another and orient users’ preferences as an expression of the app’s hierarchy. The hierarchical transitions help users move one level upward or downward in the app’s hierarchy. The peer transitions help users move between the screens of equal hierarchy. Let’s have a detailed look at both these types of transitions one by one:

You Have A Vision

We Have The Means To Get You There

1. Hierarchical Transitions

It helps users move up, down, etc., in one app. In this, screens have adjacent levels like parent and child relationships. The embedded child element lifts from the parent screen that further expands in its place and transforms the transition pattern. This motion reinforces the relationship between parent-child and focuses on the child screen.

2. Peer Transitions

These are in two types including sibling transition and top-level peer transition. Let us understand both this one-by-one:

Sibling transitions: In this transition, screens share the same parent to strengthen the relationship between two screens. The peer screen slides from one side while the sibling screen moves off the screen in opposite direction.

Top-level transitions: In this transition, destinations are grouped as major tasks and it takes place using a fade-through transition.

Android Navigation

Principles Of Android Navigation:

  • Fixing starting and ending points
  • The navigation state is represented by a destination stack.
  • Your app neverexits when you use the Up button.
  • Deep linking is a technique used to emulate physical navigation.
Design for different form factorsAnimate transitions between destinations
Gesture navigationUpdate UI components with NavigationUI
Design navigation graphsCreate swipe views with tabs
Nested graphsInteract programmatically with the Navigation component
Global actionsTest navigation
Conditional navigationAdd new destination types
Pass data between destinationsProvide custom back navigation
Migrate to the Navigation componentCreate a deep link for a destination
Documentation & Resources Related To Android Navigation Component | developer. android

iOS Navigation

1. Hierarchical Navigation

Hierarchical Navigation

2. Flat Navigation

Flat Navigation

3. Content-Driven or Experience-Driven Navigation

Content Driven or Experience Driven Navigation

Apple iOS Human Interface Guidelines:

  • Always make sure there is a clear path.
  • Create an information structure that allows for quick and easy access to content.
  • To achieve fluidity, use touch movements.
  • Make use of common navigation elements.
  • Use a navigation bar to navigate a data hierarchy.
  • Use a tab bar to display peer content or functionality categories.
  • Instead of a tab bar, utilize a split view on the iPad.
  • When you have numerous pages with the same type of material, use page control.
User InteractionSystem CapabilitiesVisual DesignIcons & ImagesBarsViewsControlsExtensions
3D TouchAugmented RealityAdaptivity and LayoutImage Size & ResolutionNavigation BarsAction SheetsButtonsCustom Keyboards
AccountsHome Screen ActionsAnimationApp IconSearch BarsActivity ViewsColor WellsFile Providers
Apple Pencil & ScribbleMultitasking and Multiple WindowsBrandingSystem IconsSidebarsAlertsContext MenusMessaging
AudioNotificationsColorStatus BarsCollectionsEdit MenusPhoto Editing
Data EntryPrintingDark ModeTab BarsImage ViewsLabelsSharing & Actions
Drag and DropQuick LookLaunch ScreenToolbarsPagesPage Controls
FeedbackRatings and ReviewsMaterialsPopoversPickers
File HandlingScreenshotsTerminologyScroll ViewsProgress Indicators
Game ControllersTV ProvidersTypographySheetsRefresh Content Controls
GesturesVideoSplit ViewsSegmented Controls
HapticsTablesSliders
KeyboardsText ViewsSteppers
Near Field CommunicationWeb ViewsSwitches
Pointers (iPadOS)Text Fields
Spatial Interactions
Undo and Redo
Documentation & Resources Related To iOS Navigation Component | developer.apple

Ten Great Mobile Navigation Examples

It is always easy to understand the app navigation implementation with the help of quick examples. A quick list of the top ten mobile navigation examples includes:

1. Facebook

Facebook

It is one of the most popular apps using effective mobile navigation. It has combined different mobile navigation patterns including bottom navigation bar, top navigation bar, hamburger menu, etc. The company’s tech team has ensured that different navigation patterns can be used without making the app overwhelming. The persistently available buttons use five different destinations which is the secret of consistency of Facebook.

Facebook App

2. Apple’s 3D Touch

Apple iOS

It is a popular app that has invented 3D touch in the industry. It has offered great usability to diversified users by creating a whole new range of shortcuts. It offers a range of navigational options to different users for a better understanding of app navigation.

3. Spotify

It is one of the widely used music streaming business apps that is interestingly one of the attractive user-interface apps. It offers dynamic ways to discover content throughout the app content. The user interfaces further encouraged the users to get the best out of different features. The bottom navigation bar makes the app centralized with main app navigation features.

4. Uber 

Ideally ranked as one of the top-rated taxi mobile applications, Uber has one of the effective and straightforward user interfaces. Further, the options to choose from the Uber Eats and Uber taxi services are easily accessible using the app.

5. Netflix

It is one of the top-used entertainment apps that have distinctive app navigation features. The user interface ensures that customers can scroll through different media content that is ideal for app and desktop uses. Needless to say, customers can go through the content with quick navigation buttons.

Netflix App

6. Tinder

Tinder Logo

One of the preferred apps for online dating, Tinder is a leading example of app navigation that brings the power of gesture-based navigation for daily use. The classic left or right swipe pattern keeps users encouraged, entertained, and active. Tinder is one of the most applauded dynamic apps in the modern tech industry.

7. Duolingo

Duolingo language learning app logo

With a leader in language learning apps, Duolingo offers a range of different language learning. The colorful round icons and descriptive dashboard ensure quick access to all learning courses options.

8. Myntra

Myntra

It is one of the top-grossing online shopping apps for quality shopping at affordable rates. The easy-to-use navigation boards make it easy for the new bees to find a perfect product without getting overwhelmed with the choices. Myntra is also using more than one app navigation pattern. 

Myntra App

9. Trello

Trello

This website goes beyond the square cards with their creatively designed elongated rectangular cards that optimize the screen space. It helps simplify complex workflows, keeps the user-interface tidy, and makes it easy for the users to navigate throughout the app.

10. Twitter

It uses more than one single navigation pattern that includes a bottom bar that covers different navigation patterns. Being one of the leading social media apps, Twitter focuses on trending app navigation.

Conclusion

With more than

61% of smartphone users agree that their favorite apps are easy to use and navigate.

ThinkWithGoogle

So, there is a pressing need for app navigation. It all starts by understanding the navigation, its different types, mobile navigation, etc. Mobile navigation is easy to implement using the best practices and top eight must-to-have components in any mobile navigation app.

Next in the line is the navigation transition that is at the heart of the seamless user experience. The top ten examples of the mobile navigation examples make it easy to understand the results from the dedicated app navigation. Hence, with this guide, any technical person can be ready for quick and effective app navigation.

If you have any project in mind for app development then get in touch with our professional app development team for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions About App Navigation

What Is Screen Navigation?

The interaction that permits users to navigate across, back, and into different pieces of content within an app is known as screen navigation. 

What Is ScreenProps?

The props that pass from above the navigator component are known as screenProps. It passes extra options to child screens. 

What Is The Android Navigation Bar?

A menu that appears at the bottom of an Android phone’s screen is known as the Android navigation bar. It’s the basis of your phone’s navigation. 

Author

I am an eCommerce consultant, a member of the Forbes technology council with a decade of experience in the ecommerce development segment. My expertise can make your business overcome any obstacles while you are dealing with the Magento ecommerce platform!