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Are Sticky Widgets Useful to Web Design?

Sticky widgets — sometimes called sticky, fixed or floating bars — are design elements that sit in the same place on a user’s screen, even as they scroll. Information or links on these widgets will be available no matter where a visitor is on the page.

If you have some important info that you want to have available 100% of the time, sticky widgets are a great option.

If you’re wondering how to implement these site components effectively, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six different ways sticky widgets can provide better accessibility and value to a site’s visitors:

1. Streamline Navigation With Sticky Menus and Headers

One popular use of sticky widgets is sticky navigation. With this approach, a web designer makes their website’s header, or another navigation element, follow the user as they scroll through any page on the site.

Users often want quick access to essential business information — like what a company does, what products it offers and how shoppers can make a purchase. Businesses can make this information easily available with a sticky navigation sidebar. If a user wants a little more information after reading, they won’t need to scroll all the way back up to see what kind of quick-access information is available via the header.

If they click to a new page, navigation links will also be in the same spot as before.

This addition may not seem like a big change. A sticky navigation bar may only spare visitors one or two clicks. Still, that difference can be extremely noticeable, especially for users who are browsing your site for a long time and regularly returning to the navigation header. This benefit is also relevant on sites with complex interfaces, where having a reliable visual landmark can make navigation a little more pleasant.

Social media platforms provide some of the best examples of sticky navigation in action. As a user scrolls down their feed, navigation elements — like a “Home” button, notifications tab and side panel with relevant content — will stay in the same spot. Because of this, as a user navigates around the website — clicking on content, exploring trending topics and responding to messages — they’ll always have an immediately accessible button to take them back to their homepage.

2. Keep Users in the Loop With Opt-In Forms

Your business probably has an email list, newsletter or another kind of regular email communication you use to provide customers with relevant deals and update them on the latest brand developments.

Sticking a simple opt-in form for your business’s email list to the side of the page can be a good way to encourage users to get on that list. This kind of sticky widget can be especially effective if you offer a reward for signing up — like free content or a discount — because you can also keep that offer on the user’s screen as they scroll.

3. Add Quick Access to Contact Info

Quick access to essential business information smooths out the browsing experience. If a visitor knows exactly where they need to click to book a session, get a quote or view a digital storefront, they won’t have to go hunting for that link when they want to move further along in the sales process.

Marcotte Properties shows how this approach looks in action. As a user scrolls, the header and a sidebar, tucked to the right and out of the way of page content, follow along. If a visitor is convinced to book a tour by the page content, they know exactly where to click. This convenient design decision can save customers time and avoid confusion.

Numerous popular WordPress themes for businesses, like Business Point and Hestia, integrate these fixed headers by default. If you want to experiment with this kind of navigation element, it’s not difficult to try.

4. Make It Easy to Share Content

When you create content for your website, you usually want users to share it far and wide. However, sites don’t always make it easy. While there are many widgets available you can use to create social share links for all the articles and content on your site, placement may still be an issue. Unless you make it easy to access content sharing buttons, only a few users may take advantage of them.

The New York Times shows an example of how sticky widgets can improve content sharing buttons. Check the top right of the page — there are some extremely subtle sharing buttons, including options for Facebook, Twitter, email and a list of other platforms. These sharing buttons follow the user as they scroll, giving them instant access to sharing if they decide the content would be interesting to someone they know or a good fit for their feed.

5. Offer Chat Assistance

Chat windows and chatbots have quickly become a go-to option for businesses wanting to provide rapid customer support. With this method, customer service reps can help a client within seconds rather than the minutes or more it takes over email or phone.

This chat window will only help visitors if they know where to find it — and know that chat assistance is an option to begin with. A sticky chat icon that opens into a window is a great way to solve this problem.

Commotion Engine, a graphic design firm specializing in animated videos, shows an example of this element in action on its homepage. At the bottom left of the page is a message icon that opens into a chat window when clicked. This icon provides quick access to support and shows if a new message has been received while the chat window is collapsed.

6. Update Users on Notifications and Recent Posts

You can also use sticky widgets to update users on new content and other notifications. With an element like a notifications button that updates with new messages or posts, users will know when new content is available and have instant access to that information.

These sorts of elements can be especially useful if your users receive a steady stream of content from your site. They can also be helpful if you want to give visitors notifications and access to messages from customer support reps or other users.

How Sticky Widgets Can Streamline Site Navigation

By locking a widget in place, you can ensure that users can access it no matter where they are on the page. These sticky widgets can be highly effective in several different situations. While they will take up a bit of space on a visitor’s screen, the benefits and ease of access they can provide are often worth it.

If you want to make certain pages or features of your website easy for visitors to reach, sticky widgets are a great option.

 

Lexie Lu

Lexie is a digital nomad and graphic designer. When she's not traveling to various parts of the country, you can find her at the local flea markets or hiking with her goldendoodle. Check out her design blog, Design Roast, and connect with her on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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