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I am trying to determine a method that will allow visitors to toggle between two categories of users.

The high level navigation:

For Professionals vs. For Users

Many product categories within each high level category.

One option is:

enter image description here

We're just not sure if this is too discreet. Looking for a bigger call out.

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Are they best categorized as different sections of the site (eg a Parents top level section and a Kids top level section) or different view modes of the same area (advanced vs simple view of the same stuff)? –  Ben Brocka Jun 13 '12 at 16:56

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think this is actually a strategic question. It really depends how many of each type of user you have and who you think the site is for. And how important each group is to you.

If you decide each group are going to be equal users then you should go for a high level split. In which case I would endorse everything that Myrddin says and...

I would keep your top level page extemely simple... just contact information, social media and high level stuff about the company.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Pearsons use pretty much that model

Pearson site

or a more arty version at the Smithsonian

Smithosian site

However your website is mainly aimed at one user base then high level choice isn't waranted. You need to think about using a side bar to attract the other group to identify themselves (I think a toggle not visible enough). Could still be a large button to a seperate part of the site. But in this case you assume the main users and only ask the different ones to identify themselves e.g. parents on a kids site.

Cbeebies site

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Whenever you have two very distinct user bases, it's better to separate them as soon as possible. Have different sites for each of them. Behind the scenes, these sites could share 99% of the code and layout, but as far as the user sees it should be a completely different portion of the site.

This way advertising that focuses on one demographic or the other can land directly on the different part of the site. The generic home page that services both should have big happy buttons that lead to the separate site views.

Because it's not just products (ideally) that will change; it's also the way you phrase things, the types of features you focus on, the decorative content. Parents will have very different needs than Teachers or Kids, and the site you create to sell to them should have a different design to match. So it's not just a filter on the product... it's more a different site. You should enable and encourage your designers to provide different content specific to the type of user by splitting the demographics into separate areas early. Even if you don't have separate designs now, you should make it so you can.

And this change completely removes the need for a filter. It's two sites, with different products. The back end might filter based on whether the URL contains /parent/ or /teacher/, so the code would be nearly identical, even though the UX is completely different.

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And please, please, please, don't make me choose my preference over and over again every single time I re-visit your site (while providing some kind of mechanism to switch over if i really really want to)! –  vzwick Jun 14 '12 at 16:00

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