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So, using Google tonight I noted, in the results page, some links get duplicated among two bars, one anchored at the top, and a second one below the search box.

You can compare the initial page with the results page. My links are in portugueses, but basically you get two Search/Web, two Images, two maps, etc...

Here's the images:

Initial page:

enter image description here

Results page:

enter image description here

I also noted this is not consistent with the maps page:

enter image description here

Question

When is it a good practice to keep two bars in the same page? I mean, what characteristics would make a page one candidate to have duplicated bars/menus/links?

And why is it not duplicated at the maps page?

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Worth noting that Google constantly runs experiments and tests, so this may simply be one of those. –  dhmholley Mar 10 '13 at 23:49
    
What exactly do you mean by "bars"? –  JohnGB Mar 11 '13 at 1:07
    
By bars a mean the top black menu where we a collection of links, the same links below the search box –  RMalke Mar 11 '13 at 1:33
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2 Answers 2

The two bars serve different purposes. One is a navigation bar, and the other is more like a tab bar.

The top menu bar (the dark grey one) is a unified navigation bar that appears across many of Google's services. It is there to maintain consistency across their products (with the notable exception of YouTube).

The menu options above the search results in the search results page, are essentially tabs to change which service you are searching within. It's to narrow down what you are searching for rather than a link to that services home page.

So, yes, it makes sense that they have two bars. It maintains consistency across their services and allows you to narrow your search in services for which search is applicable.

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My answer is that it's NOT appropriate to duplicate basic navigation options

This is particularly egregious because Google's own eye tracking research surely tells them their users follow the F-shaped reading pattern. A user performing a search for a video or a map that doesn't peripherally see anything graphical in the vanilla SERP is going to start hunting for the refinement option, probably starting from the top of the page. I have made this error a few times, myself, and have had to train myself to ignore the black menu bar along the top... a bar that I've discovered through trial+error is not going to help me with my searching.

http://www.nngroup.com/articles/f-shaped-pattern-reading-web-content/

I know Google bases many of their interface decisions on real user data, but I have to wonder if they are making a business decision to accept this discontinuity so they can use this screen real estate to promote their non-search-services to their search users.

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Hi peterg. This doesn't really provide an answer to the question I'm afraid, it's really just a passage of text whereby you are agreeing with the op that the situation exists. Can you provide some reasoning as to when it is appropriate to repeat navigation options such as the OP has requested? –  JonW Mar 11 '13 at 7:23
    
Thanks for the opportunity to clarify -- my answer is that it's NOT appropriate to duplicate basic navigation options. –  peterg Mar 11 '13 at 9:41
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