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I am working on a new site for a customer and they have already planned out a rough structure of pages for their site which involves substantial duplication of structure, but not necessarily of content.

e.g.

home
|--about-us
|--business-area-a
   |--products
   |--case-studies
   |--something-else
|--business-area-b
   |--products
   |--case-studies
   |--something-else
|--products
   |--product-1
   |--product-2

Note that some products would apply to both business areas. We will probably keep the products together under their own products node/page.

Now, from a user journey point of view I guess it makes sense to be able to select their business type (a or b) then browse appropriate products. However, I want to know if this design, where the structure of content is effectively duplicated, is a bad idea. Would it be better to just have case studies and products as level 2 pages, then tag the case studies and products pages with the relevant business area categories?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I agree with Mike that is an usability concern as it could cause a user to get confused about the same piece of content being present in two different locations and he will struggle to determine the relationship between the two main categories and how they relate to this content and how the content relates to them individuality. Furthermore the user will be stressed to try and remember if this content is the exact same as what he saw before or if there are subtle differences and if so ,what are those differences.

An approach we used for a site which similar issues was to have a common link which contained all the common information.Eg: A page which lists all the case studies and if a person clicks on say case study under business area 1 ,he is directed to the anchor link of that case study.

However I would recommend you do a card sorting exercise with your stakeholders to find where they think the content would best fit and highlight the dangers in duplication from an usability and memory retention perspective

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This is a significant usability risk, in that when a site visitor sees the duplicate content, they will have to stop and mentally process whether this is different from the 2nd or 3rd instance they saw (of the same thing).

Have you asked them to map content back to audience support?

This usually helps weed out and prioritize the need for unique, duplicate-free content structures.

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1  
Hi and thanks for your answer - this is really helpful. One thing though, what do you mean when you say "map content back to audience support"? –  mdresser Feb 15 '12 at 22:47

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