Bristol-Myers Squibb : Return of the left menu, mobile style

An American pharmaceutical company uses its mobile navigation menu on the desktop, with mixed results.

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The feature

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s new responsive corporate website uses the same navigation device on its desktop and mobile versions.

On a desktop, the device appears on the left side of the screen and is always in view. Clicking on any of the hyperlinked menu items, eg ‘Job Seekers’ takes visitors to the page.

If there are further layers within the section, an arrow appears to the right. Clicking this, displays the next level of sub-menus. A ‘Main Navigation’ link appears at lower levels, as well as a link to return to the previous level.

On a smartphone, the menu collapses behind a hamburger icon, and when clicked, works in the same way, but it takes up the entire screen.

The takeaway

We have noted how ‘Mobile-first’ design led many corporate sites away from left menus on desktops, at a great cost to usability. Now things have come full circle at Bristol-Myers, with mobile navigation being adapted for desktops.

In practice, the device operates much like a traditional left menu, especially at upper levels. It usefully stays in place as you scroll and provides a logical structure for first-time visitors. It condenses five layers of navigation in a compact device.

One downside is that at lower levels, it can be tedious to move between sections without a universal primary bar across the top of the site.

It is also not clear whether it gets around the perceived problems of the left menu which have led to them being dropped – it takes up at least as much space on the screen as a conventional left menu; and in this case, is (in our opinion) less visually appealing than a conventional left menu, so it is hard to see it catching on.
First published 26 April, 2017
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