Webflow Bit #2: Sidebar navigation

See how quick and easy it is to build sidebar navigation in Webflow.

Nelson Abalos Jr.
January 20, 2017
Tutorials

Horizontal navigation bars have become the norm in web design, so if your audience isn’t exactly web-savvy, they’re a safe bet. But if you’re looking to do something a bit different, sidebar navigation can help keep your site looking clean while still providing easy access to links.

In this, my second Webflow Bit, I’ll show you how quick and easy it is to make a sidebar navigation menu for your Webflow websites.

 

Step 1: Drag in a navbar component

Open the Add panel on the left, scroll down to the Components section, then drag the navbar component onto your canvas (or use the Navigator tab if you need more precision).

Step 2: Style your navbar

Set the position to fixed left and set the top, left, and bottom to 0px. (Or put it on the right, with top, right, and bottom set to 0px.) You can also add a background color if you’d like.

Step 3: Define your navbar settings

With your navbar selected, go to the Settings tab, then set the menu icon to “Desktop and below” so it displays at all breakpoints. (Though, of course, you can set the sidebar nav to start displaying at whatever breakpoint you want.) Then tick the “Menu fills page height” box and set the menu type to “over left.”

Optional: Style your menu icon

If you changed the background color of your navbar component, you may need to change the menu icon’s color too. To do that, switch to the Navigator tab, select the menu button, give it a class name, then change the font color. You may need to do this for the links in your nav as well.

Pro tip: check your text color contrast

Check the legibility of your text links with WebAIM’s Color Contrast Checker so those with vision problems can still navigate your website.

Step 4: Preview and enjoy!

Click the preview button at the top left of the Designer to see your work in action.

There can be many reasons for a website to exist

I often witness some very unsolicited advising taking place. Some people tend to have premade answers when it comes to websites and more often than not, it comes from a good place. In spite of that, most of them don’t bother to ask anything about the project before weighing in.

left the tomatoes gif
There’s a reason why the tomatoes are on the plate. But how could you know that?

I get it. We all know our stuff. But a website can serve many purposes and unless you were part of the process, you don’t know what it is we’re doing here. And you don’t know the function of every component of that project. So thanks for the input but we’re good.

guy gif

That said, it doesn’t mean that everyone who will give their opinion about our work is out of line. We must always be open to constructive criticism and set the ego aside when it comes to problem solving. I just think we should be smart and think for ourselves rather than to take everything at face value.

Personality disconnect

Just like you, I don’t like to be sold to, and I don’t like when companies try to exploit my inner dumbass. Even though it has become some sort of buzzword, authenticity is what it’s all about — true authenticity that is. It’s what we should all strive for while we make our way through that colossal white noise vortex. 

Perception is the name of the game. We have a say in how people view us, and view our businesses. Even though we can only control a portion of the big picture, it’s our job to nudge that perception to where we want it to be. 

Pro tip: If you’re a brand (or solopreneur), don’t just find another brand to imitate. Truly ask yourself what you stand for and what you want to be. Be as genuine as possible. Define your brand’s personality and then act accordingly. Without any restraint, broadcast who you are to the world.

girls dancing gif
Take it all in people.

If you do what others do simply because you think: “It worked for them, it’ll work for me.” Think twice about that. I know, you know, and everybody knows this would do a disservice to you and your audience. 

For instance, you’re a freelancer and you present yourself as a funny easygoing person. You’re then hired to work in an agency for 2 months but 3 days in, it’s getting pretty obvious you're not funny nor easygoing. Uh-oh! You managed to pull a Plaxico Burress and you’re now stuck in a very unfortunate situation. 

Same goes for brands. You claim to care about the environment and people but then you use an antitheft device on your cars to violate the Clean Air Act. Whoopsy-daisy! Turns out you’re garbage and the environment was way down on your priority list. 

Try not to be on the receiving end of this.

The ones who will make it to the other side are the ones who dared to be different

Most people are scared to break the mould. They say stuff like: “If we talk like this, we could possibly offend blond mothers over 42 who also drive electric cars.” Or: “If we look different from the competition, this could maybe potentially make us lose business opportunities at some point perhaps.” Yes — solid point. Essentially, it all comes down to what type of brand (or person) we want to be.

The truth is, brands willing to take risks will always come out on top.

So with this in mind, I’ll paraphrase my very good friend, Paul Arden: “If you always play it safe, you’ll be the same as everyone else. And that’s seriously bad for business.”

But from the right perspective, times like these afford us a peachy opportunity to stand out. That’s right, I said peachy. While most are content with being bland, I think we should aim higher. Why not try to turn some heads and get some reactions? If we’re ok with people remaining indifferent, we fail. Because indifferent people won’t pay attention to us, talk about us, hire us, refer us, and so on. The Apples and Nikes of the world understand this. They apply it with precision and consistency. So if they can do it, why can’t we? My advice to you is simple: 

Be brave. Stand out. And know that, yes, that will probably alienate some people. Chances are, they weren’t the customers you wanted anyway.

As you were.

Nelson Abalos Jr.

Designer Evangelist @webflow. Host of the Webflow Workshops. Follow me @thepixelgeek.

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