FedEx : When left is right

Another responsive, modern-looking site introduces left menus. Is this the start of a counter-trend? 

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The feature

The ‘About FedEx’ microsite, one part of the US-based logistics giant’s fragmented corporate online presence, has introduced left menu navigation on the landing page, and at deeper levels.

The left menu appears to be new. According to the Wayback Machine, the site was redesigned in the first half of last year, and the prior version used mega dropdown panels as its primary navigation device.

On the relaunched, responsive site, the left menu is just visible above the scroll line on a standard desktop monitor. It uses click-to-expand menus for deeper pages, and collapses into a hamburger menu on smartphone screens.


The takeaway

FedEx’s About microsite shows that old-fashioned left menus can co-exist with other decidedly modern elements of web design – responsiveness; image panels featuring ‘stories’; and prominent links to social media channels, the company Twitter feed and blog.

The left menus are not subtle either – they take up a sizeable chunk of ‘real estate’ on the page. On a smartphone, the expanded menu covers the full screen. FedEx designers have clearly decided that usability is more important than ‘minimalism’ or making space for other features, frequently cited reasons for dropping left navigation.

FedEx has answered what we are calling the ‘navigation challenge’ (how to combine modernity with usability) by going back to the future – maybe left menus are not so antiquated after all.
First published 27 January, 2016
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