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19 Website Navigation Design Examples For Your Online Portfolio

Want to know more about website navigation designs for your online portfolio site? Learn about the different types of navigation for websites in our roundup.

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Setting up an online portfolio website is a major step in any creative career. Nowadays, you’re highly likely to be discovered online rather than through more traditional channels, especially if you work in a visual field. That’s why your portfolio website can be so powerful. It can convince potential clients to become paying clients, encourage people to share your work with others, and be a place where you can share and connect with your followers.

The good news for those of us who aren’t web design pros is that you can make a stunning, professional website that you’re proud to share with the world by using a website builder. Today’s portfolio site builders come packed with the features creative professionals need, with tons of website templates that you can customize to look like they were built just for you.

One important choice you’ll make when setting up your portfolio is website navigation. There are five major different types of navigation for websites that you can opt for, and each of them will offer a slightly different user experience to your visitors. These include the vertical scroll website template, horizontal scroll website template, fullscreen website template, tiled website template and slideshow website template. Whether you’re looking for wedding photography website templates or a graphic designer seeking the best designer website templates, there are different navigation design elements that help make your work shine.

One website navigation design isn’t necessarily better than the next, it just depends on what look you’re going for. Sometimes, a certain type of photography or content will be better suited to a given website navigation template than another, but there are no hard and fast rules. By familiarizing yourself with the different types of website navigation, you’ll be ready to choose the perfect navigation style for your creative business.

Best Website Navigation Design Examples

You might already have a sense of the different navigation types from their names, but there’s nothing quite like seeing some actual examples in action. When looking through the different website navigation templates, think about your portfolio and how your content would appear in each template. This way, you’ll get an idea of how you want your own portfolio to look, and you’ll have an easier time choosing a template and getting set up.

Vertical Scroll Website Navigation

A classic, foolproof navigation style, the vertical scrolling website is a great choice if you want something user friendly, familiar and intuitive. That’s not to say that this navigation style is boring: as you’ll see in these navigation examples, a wide range of website can be achieved with vertical scrolling.

Format Website Template Exhibition

Once a project is clicked, you’re taken to another vertical scroll website with high-res images from that collection along with text and captions, if you choose to include these.

This vertical navigation structure is familiar to anyone who’s ever surfed the internet, so you can be confident that you won’t turn off users who don’t want to have to click around too much to find what they need. Exhibition would work well for a graphic designer, photojournalist, or any creative who wishes to contextualize their visual content with text and captions.

Format Website Template Meander

If you love a discreet menu, this template will deliver. In the left-hand corner there’s a hamburger menu that reveals a large navigation menu listing all of your site’s pages. It’s both subtle when unopened and legible once expanded, so you get the best of both worlds from a navigation perspective.

Format Website Template Mode

This template allows you to easily display pictures with different aspect ratios and orientations in a way that doesn’t look messy, since there is typically just one image in the frame.

Format Website Template Range

You can show examples of your best work as the user scrolls vertically on the home page, and when they click on each project they’re taken to a new page where you can show gorgeously rendered video along with stills ad text. Responsive design means that the theme looks just as good on a small mobile screen as on a desktop, and the intuitive vertical scroll navigation functions the same way on both.

Horizontal Scroll Website Navigation

If you like breaking the rules with your navigation scheme, you might prefer horizontally scrolling websites. Forget what you’ve heard about horizontal websites being bad for user experience: the new generation of horizontal template is the result of careful navigation planning and feature elements designed to make sure your visitors intuitively know how to navigate the page.

While horizontally scrolling websites are often recommended for content with a portrait orientation, landscape orientation can look amazing too. A perk of this navigation style is that you can often fill more of the page with your work. It can also be that extra touch that makes your site more memorable, something all creatives hope for.

Format Website Template Reel

If you want to create a portfolio that’s both elegant and contemporary, and that lets your content shine, Reel is a great choice.

Format Website Template Skyline

Skyline is proof that this navigation style isn’t only for content with a portrait orientation. You can mix both portrait and landscape images and they’ll be displayed beautifully in this theme, filling the screen. Information is easy to access in the left-hand main menu, where you can even easily link your online store to sell prints.

This horizontal template is particularly stunning even on mobile devices, with edge-to-edge imagery showing every detail of your photos. The hamburger icon that you see on the mobile version opens up the same easy to navigate menu, for a seamless experience no matter the device.

Format Website Template Dusk

The navigation bar along the top is discreet and elegant but still noticeable, so you can include all those important pages a wedding site should have, such as a pricing page.

This template, combining vertical and horizontal elements, is ideal if your business requires that you include a lot of text in addition to your visual content, particularly on the landing page. Simpler templates may not have quite as much room for text on the home page, so if you want to include it then look for a theme like Dusk.

Format Website Template Beacon

When you hover over each item in the primary navigation, an image from that gallery is displayed. Once you click, you’re taken to a horizontal scrolling gallery that spaces the images apart so that each image is displayed one at a time, getting the users’ full attention.

You’ll notice this theme makes use of a secondary navigation, accessible through the hamburger menu in the top right corner. Here, you can include additional pages, such as your contact information, links to social media, and anything else you may want to include. By making use of two menus, Beacon puts the landing page focus entirely on your content.

Fullscreen Website Design Navigation

If you’re after maximum impact, full screen websites might be the perfect choice for your portfolio. These designs give your work a monumental quality and are anything but subtle.

Format Website Template Industry

Header menus allow for an even larger image since it can go from browser edge to browser edge, but they can also make the navigation a little less obvious since users might have to collapse part of the menu or read menu items in small font. Industry does an excellent job of combining full screen content with a navigation bar that you can’t miss, for a polished, professional and impactful effect.

Format Website Template Fullframe

Subtle arrows on either side make sure that users know the navigation works when they’re on the landing section.

Format Website Template Sun
Format Website Template Ambience

There’s a header navigation bar as well, so visitors won’t miss any of the important information contained in the website.

Tiled Website Design Navigation

There’s something about a tiled site that just makes you want to stick around and explore more. They’re playful and energetic and can lend themselves well to all kinds of photography businesses.

Format Website Template Kiln
Format Website Template Collage

When visitors navigate to the image galleries, a unique feature of Collage is how the tiled images are interspersed with text, for an editorial look. This is an unconventional way to add some context or captions to your portfolio, while maintaining the broken grid look.

Format Website Template Detail
Format Website Template Hue

Sometimes designers overthink what visitors need when visiting sites: less can be more, and Hue is a great example of this. The navigation menu is simple yet functional, with all the info you need being just a button away.

Slideshow Design Navigation

A great slideshow can tell a visual story. Slideshow design sites are a great way to immerse people in the world of your images.

Format Website Template Fabric

While most website navigation examples involve a header menu or static left hand menu, Fabric has a dropdown menu that pops out from the left when you click the menu icon. Dropdown menus have the benefit of leaving more room for the main images until people are ready to look for more information. A secondary footer menu provides a subtle place to link to social media accounts, while the primary menu is extra large, clear, and legible.

Format Website Template Slate
Format Website Template SPruce

With so many navigation designs to choose from, you’re bound to find one that suits your photography business. If you’re having a hard time visualizing how your images will look, you can always try out a 2 week free trial and take them for a test drive. Let’s bring that portfolio to life!

Want more design insights? Read on!

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