Users want to know who they are dealing with.


Reserve an area on every page for communication and secondary navigation elements.


Use when

Most web sites, especially for commercial sites who wish to get in contact with their visitors and are large enough to have searching facilities. Additionally, the site offers navigational functionality that should be available on every page. Some functionality is relevant on every page. Users may want to go to a different place in the page.


Usually the meta navigation bar consists of navigation elements AND communicative elements. Navigation elements include Home Link, Search Box, Site Map, and Index. Links to the worldwide site or other higher level sites are also a navigation elements. Communicative elements tell users something about the organization and how to get in touch, for example About Us, Contact, Feedback. The meta navigation bar is placed in the upper region of the page so that it is always visible.


The meta navigation bar contains functionality that is relevant on every page of the web site. It is therefore always accessible in an non-obtrusive way that does not cost much screen space.

More Examples

This example is taken from the Dutch Audi site where the meta navigation is used to make a reference to the worldwide Audi site.

Another example from Dell.

plml logo


7 comments have been added to this pattern

Jan, 22nd August 2007
you have a wonderful site. But "Meta Navigation" is such a strange word. What is so meta about it? Why not call it Service Navigation or Global Navigation?

Regine, 12th October 2007
It is called "meta" because, if you had to draw the content structure of your site, you couldn't insert it in the semantic tree of the site. Just like the meta(data), that are next to the body of a page and bring further upper information and "services" (js, css...) about the page.
Service navigation exclude the Home link, the Sitemap link (etc.), that are not really services like a newsletter or a search engine are.
"Global Navigation" is semantically too close to "Main navigation".

Hope it helps !
Alex, 9th December 2007
I've seen it called a "Utility Navigation".

PS> Wonderful site. Keep it up!
gorn, 12th November 2008
The name Meta navigation is not very good. It would mean rather Navigation in navigations (which could be considered ok if you have more types of navigation - search might be considered one of them). So thought it is near it is not exactly what is meant.
Louise Hewitt, 14th December 2008
I've always used 'utility navigation'. It is more intuitive to clients, who already struggle with metadata. Also, it is my understanding that meta would be easily interpreted as 'navigation of the navigation' (although this is not what the prefix implies) rather than 'subsidiary navigation'.

Utility implies useful, but not exciting - which is what the stuff we put into this zone usually is.
Jen Dineen, 4th September 2009
Yep, I have to jump on the "Utility Nav" band wagon. I agree that "meta" is too technical sounding for clients.

Utility Nav is the one phrase that seems to stick with most colleagues and clients.

Johnny Walker, 21st December 2010
Another +1 for 'utility' navigation. I picked that up from the Tidwell book. It feels right.

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