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I have created a sidebar for a client as requested:

screenshot of web page

The top bar - where on other pages menu items are shown - is left empty as requested and instead 3 menu items are show in the sidebar. These lead to the three main sections of the site.

The client said the menu is not clear enough and I do agree. We only do not agree on location as I preferred the choices in the horizontal bar.

I decided to see how the sidebar menu can be made prettier. Client was inspired by http://smeekens.live.addsite.nl/praktijk so perhaps I should add a sidebar background for contrast?

How can I make the sidebar more prominent?

Update I have added menu items to the horizontal menu and I have added a background to the menu. It looks a lot better now. Thanks for all input!

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Two things that came to mind. The horizontal line being quite thick, may seem like a menu. So people might think for a second that it is the menu, but it doesnt show up for some reason. Another thing is the Welkom text above the menu, it makes the menu seem like sub menu and kinda hides the menu anyways. Maybe you could for starters see how it would look with the Welkom title above the actual text and the menu starting from same level as the title. –  Joonas Feb 12 '12 at 8:05
    
This is really an ambiguous questions. Answers would be purely based on one's own sense of aesthetics. –  Scott Feb 12 '12 at 9:33
    
To only make the menu more prominent you could make a blue background for the menu and connect it with the blue horizontal line. This could eliminate the impression that the horizontal line is the menu. But I agree with @Scott that this only is my sense of aesthetics. –  ueberkim Feb 12 '12 at 10:59
    
Thanks for all the comments. I do agree aesthetics come into play, but it is still good to hear some opinions. I am going to go for a background color and see if the client likes that better. –  rhand Feb 12 '12 at 15:15

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Your best bet is to add a background color to the menu so it is distinguishable from the rest of the page. However, I would explain to your client that it is important to maintain structured navigation throughout their site, otherwise visitors will be confused by a sudden change. (That is, if some pages use the horizontal navigation and others use the vertical navigation.)

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Thanks. The sidebar would be to lead all to department a, b, c with all different horizontal menus showing different pages. The sidebar on those pages will show the children of the page the sidebar is loaded on. So do think that is clear enough. –  rhand Feb 13 '12 at 2:11
    
As long as you keep it consistent it should be fine. –  DC_ Feb 13 '12 at 2:18
    
Made some changes. Added a background now: imageshack.us/photo/my-images/444/vwhorn.png and have an empty top nav bar. Also removed "Welcome" above the sidebar as it was confusing. Going to discuss the empty top menu though as I think it is kind of awkward. –  rhand Feb 14 '12 at 5:47
    
Removed the top bar one home as it is empty there anyways and I must say it looks way better. Hope the client will agree. –  rhand Feb 14 '12 at 6:08
    
Ah, much better. Now I can actually tell where the nav ends and the content begins. –  DC_ Feb 14 '12 at 6:38

Hmm I guess he means that it is not to obvious that is a sidebar. For me as I am looking at your design looking like a paper with the shadows and everything, you can make some similar effect at the background of the sidebar. Something small like a bevel or a shadow. I do not belive a whole change of the golor will look that greate. As I sad something small and elegant or try to go crazy with a piece of paper with a folded edge or something. In the end it's a matter of taste.

I don't know if I was helpfull but still hope you will make ti.

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