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I'm considering some small navigation changes to one of my sites. Consider the following (simplified) site structure:

  • About Some Technology
    • About Some Technology
  • Our Products
    • Products Overview
    • Product 1
    • Product 2
  • Our Services
    • Services Overview
    • Service A
    • Service B

[This is a vertical menu; in addition we have a horizontal menu with the usual suspects - Home/FAQs/Contact us]

In the current configuration, the three top-level menu items simply expand the sub-menus, So to get to 'About Some Technology', it takes a couple of clicks, which I think is annoying and wasteful. Most importantly, the MD doesn't like it so it's going to change.

However, I'm torn between two alternatives; either would be fine, I'm sure - certainly that little bit better than the current. But I thought I'd find out what the community would consider good or best-practice.

My two suggested alternatives are:

  1. Clicking on main menu will redirect to the 'overview' page for that section.
  2. We remove the overview pages, and make the main menu items into real pages, so when a section is selected, the page is rendered, and the menu is expanded to show other sub-items.

I don't see any problems moving forwards, but there may be an issue going backwards. Image a user selecting Our Services and then Service A. Under Approach 1, they can go back to the overview page by clicking on it directly, by clicking on the Main menu item, or clicking on the breadcrumb links. Under Approach 2, you have the main menu and the breadcrumb trail.

I have one person that thinks the original is the best, and that either of the two alternatives present usability issues - which I don't agree with. Another wants the 'simplest' option, i.e. removing 'unnecessary links' (#2). I think I currently prefer #1 because it eliminates unnecessary clicks but still presents a consistent and predictable structure for the user.

So the question is, what do people think is best in terms of usability (and why)?

I did go to the trouble of comparing some similar sites (in terms of size/industry/etc) but it wasn't that successful - there are some really shocking sites still out there!

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

In order to clean your navigation, you may try this:

  • About Some Technology (→ About Some Technology)
  • Our Products (contains → Products Overview)
    • Product 1
    • Product 2
  • Our Services (contains → Services Overview)
    • Service A
    • Service B

Don't use rollover navigation, instead, 1 click leads to main page (ie "Our Services" describes your services), and inside that page there is your "Service A" and "Service B" links to dedicated pages.

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