Felix Salmon: Kill the sticky nav!:
It might have been the Slate redesign which pushed me over the edge, I’m not sure. Maybe it’s just PTSD from Reuters Next. But at this point I will seriously donate a substantial amount of money to anybody who can build a browser plugin which automatically kills all persistent navbars, or “sticky navs”… the single most annoying thing on the news web… overtaking even the much-loathed pagination…. Meanwhile, if you’re reading a story on Slate, then it all looks perfectly normal until you start scrolling down, at which point the persistent nav magically appears….
These navbars… take over the most important part of your precious browser real estate, and the only way to make them disappear is to leave the website entirely. Readers hate these things…. Many of them are so badly designed that when you hit the spacebar… the next couple of lines that you want to read get hidden…. All of them confound intuition: the page/scroll metaphor has become so ubiquitous online that we don’t even think of it as a metaphor….
Annoying ads are one thing, but they all at least feature a little “x” which you can click on to make them go away. And yet there’s one kind of branding which seems to be the exception to this rule--and that’s when the brand in question happens to be the very publication you’re reading. None of this should come as any surprise: we went through all of this back in the 1990s, when some bright spark invented frames. Remember frames?… So what is the justification for these horrible, intrusive things? The first, and most important, is that they serve a branding function. You know what a brand is, right? It’s a piece of hot metal which is seared into your flesh so that it leaves an indelible mark…. The other reason, which is more insidious, is the way that everybody wants to be an app these days. Some services, like webmail and Twitter and Facebook, really are apps, at heart, and their websites are full of persistent elements which nobody minds. They’re a frame within which outside information is presented…. The worst offender here is Quartz, which desperately wants desktop web browsers to behave as though they’re tablets, and which as a result has not one but two sticky navs taking up a huge amount of screen real estate.
So please, publishers, lose your vanity, and kill the sticky navs…. If I’m being trolled by Sarah Lacy on Pando Daily, she should want my attention, rather than trying to inform me that there’s a section of her site with video on it…