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I am in the process of implementing Single Sign-On (SSO) across multiple sites and am intending on introducing a shared header. Two of the sites follow the same 'main site' navigation where as others have their own navigation system.

I was planning on having all the sites featured in the top with the current site being highlighted. However, I have been told this is bad practice because there will be two links to the same site every time in one instance. Additionally a concern has been raised about the scalability of this - ways to introduce new sites without limited header space.

In the long term I know navigational work needs to be done to bring the sites together, in the short term is it bad practice to have some duplication with one link at a time to bring the sites together?

The alternative would be to leave out the navigational element and have login / view profile & logout only.

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Please don't use abbreviations that not everybody may be familiar with, or may have different meanings in different contexts. –  Marjan Venema Sep 3 '12 at 11:18
    
I don't agree that you shouldn't use abbreviations at all (although it's always good practice to expand your abbreviations where possible). If you don't understand the abbreviation you're clearly not going to be able to understand the question, so move on. It probably would help to add a tag to the question to clearly show that it's a bit technical / web development / HTML / SEO related though... –  Robin Winslow Sep 3 '12 at 11:22
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@RobinWinslow That's not really a fair comment. Abbreviations and acronyms may vary across different cultures or users. The first time you you an acronym you should introduce it alongside the full text as per my question edit above. Just assuming that everyone will know it is just arrogant and unhelpful. –  JonW Sep 3 '12 at 11:39
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What is this, jump-on-the-newbie day? Give brakes a break (as it were). –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Sep 3 '12 at 12:44
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Anyway, I don't really see any problems with link duplication. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye Sep 3 '12 at 12:46
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

What you described, with a list of all sites at the top with the current site highlighted, sounds perfectly sensible. I've worked on a couple of single sign-on and multi-site projects. I'd say the most important thing is to keep the navigation for switching between sites easily distinguishable from the navigation within each site. You need to make the hierarchy very clear. Also make sure that the nav for switching between sites is persistent and visually consistent throughout.

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+1 for "switching between sites easily distinguishable from the navigation within each site" –  Benny Skogberg Sep 4 '12 at 13:24
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I've been briefly looking into downside of having two links to the same place in a web page, and it doesn't seem to me like there's anything that wrong with it. I don't think it impacts on Search-Engine Optimisation (SEO) at all. The only thing I found was this - saying it can muddle up your analytics a bit but that's not the biggest problem: http://www.savio.no/blogg/a/102/how-to-track-multiple-links-to-the-same-url-automatically-in-google-analytics

However, I do think having a navigation at the top to take you to a different site can be confusing because people could get it confused with the main site nav.

You'll notice your situation is very similar to Stack Overflow who have loads of sites and put them all in the footer (scroll down). You could do that. I also like the way Mozilla do it, with the pull-down "Mozilla" button at the top (effectively putting the "footer" at the top of the page).

I don't know if there is a definite best practice for this, just decide which you think is neatest and go with it.

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