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I've architected and am now designing a site that has level 2 vertical navigation. It's featured on the upper left corner of all sub-pages EXCEPT for the sub-section "landing" or "main" page because that page is basically an overview for the entire section with modules for each sub-page. I'm of the opinion that I don't need global navigation drop-downs. Firstly, the sub sections don't have any nesting (so no subs within the subs). Secondly, I have the vertical subnav so it gets repetitive. Thoughts?

To better explain - see this:

http://www.popkitdesign.com/FTP/sample.pdf

p1 is an L2 "main" and p2 is an L2 sub.

enter image description here

L2 sub page showing vertical sub-nav

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2 Answers 2

Your reasoning is sound, but it seems a little odd to appear to go from one site design to another whilst moving pages. Have you considered linking to the subs within subs the same way as you link to them in the main page (that is, in your example, P2 would end with two links to the other sub-pages). That puts them in a natural reading position (you've learned more about one thing, now learn more about something else), and it means it doesn't 'feel' as though we're suddenly being dropped into the middle of a brand new navigation system.

I certainly wouldn't add any other layers to the header navigation bar, though. It would be hard to maintain visual balance, and it could easily get messy for large bodies of subpages.

The only other method I can think of would be a rather flashy (and potentially tricky to develop) set of animated transitions. The user would click a navigation image, and the body content above would 'compress' (contract to leaving a header), with the navigation images moving to the top and body content for each subpage appearing below. Your users would visit other subpages by clicking the other images, or return to the 'parent' page by clicking the header. Then, your three images for each page would look like a natural extension of the horizontal nav bar in the header. It's a thought, anyway.

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Another problem with only exposing the sectional sub-nav within the relevant section is that you now force the user to navigate thru the intermediary landing pages.

If someone was on the home page and wanted to get to the Automation page, they must first load the What we offer landing page. Similarly, if someone were on the Automation page and wanted to get to Knowledge Base under Support then they must first load the Support page.

You can speed up navigation around your site by having drop downs on the global nav bar .. or you could even use a Mega Menu instead of multiple little drop downs.

By the way, hierarchical nesting would actually be an argument against drop downs.

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Good points, and a mega menu would be a great pattern to employ. +1 –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Nov 17 '11 at 10:33
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