Navigation and Action Patterns

Navigation Drawer

For sites with a larger number of sections and subsections the Navigation Drawer is a much better fit. It can be a scrollable off-canvas element to your site as well as be a common place for global state.

The Navigation Drawer is a slide in panel which is primarily used for displaying a sites navigation, but can also be used for displaying global state, i.e. user login.

A user accesses the drawer using a menu button at the top of the screen in the App Bar.


  • Your Navigation Drawer should be easily accessible to the user.
  • If the number of sections is too large, consider grouping the items and expanding / contracting the groups. Avoid overwhelming your users.
  • Don't hide key actions inside the drawer. Actions like search should be prominently on the home page, not hidden in the drawer.

The key advantages of this approach is that the content can grow inside a scrolling element, allowing for larger site structures and it takes up a very small amount of screen real estate.

For users there is a small amount to learning to do to find the Navigation Drawer so having a clearly place menu button is extremely important.

Tabs vs Navigation Drawer

Some developers find they get higher rates of interaction when using a tab bar instead of a Navigation Drawer.

The choice is a trade off between the flexibility of the Navigation Drawer with the visibility of a Tab Bar which you should consider what is best suited to your site.

Updated on 2014-01-06


Matt Gaunt

Except as otherwise noted, the content of this page is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, and code samples are licensed under the Apache 2.0 License. For details, see our Site Policies.