While doing some research before starting a new tablet application user experience, I was checking out the local favorites (Behance, Dribble, etc) and was surprised to see the most eye-catching examples were mostly leveraging a side menu bar. They are almost taking the old tab menu of the first Apple app developer guidelines and just flipping it on the side, which automatically gives it an innovative look. But don’t be so shocked as many native apps on the iPad leverage a left-hand navigation of options.
My first pondering … was this anything to do with Facebook’s left-hand menu options that they released a few years back? I was skeptical of it at first when it came out (how would it interact with the back button paradigm of page flows, etc), but then it caught on like wild fire, and rightfully so, when Facebook does something you only have a taught user base of over a billion users.
For my tablet interface design, I chose to proceed with it but then really had to decide if the side nav was ever-present or expanding/collapsing. It sounds like an easy decision, but it actually has pretty big impacts when you start designing the page layout or a grid system and need to figure out if your content can be covered up or not.
But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I first emailed some initial mockups to my iPad and viewed them. My left thumb naturally was in place to easily switch between my menu items, which made me extremely glad I made them pretty large with an icon and small label, as it was the perfect size for my thumb to hit with little worry about fat-fingering it.
So I guess this new tablet interface style is now in my repertoire, and we’ll see out it irons out with this app product in design reviews and later in live user testing.