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I'm working on a website where navigation is getting down to the fourth level. I'd like to reduce the layers of navigation by linking to content from within a page instead of making this content part of the sub-navigation within that section.

I'm just trying to figure out how you make the decision as to what goes in the navigation and what content you can link to just from within a page. Is the fact that you want to avoid having four layers of navigation valid enough reason to link to the content within the page instead?

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When you say "within a page" are you asking about having links in the body of a page to another page or to elsewhere on the same page? –  3nafish Apr 3 '13 at 17:56
    
Also, how are you defining "navigation"? I'd say just about all navigation (possibly excluding persistent navigation at the site's top) could be called links within a page. Please edit your question with a concrete example to make it clearer. –  3nafish Apr 3 '13 at 17:57
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@3nafish sorry if I wasn't clear. "Within a page" is links in the body of the page linking to another page. Navigation is links persistently at the top and left handed sub-navigation (2nd level pages) –  Reloaded Apr 3 '13 at 18:53
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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think the best answer goes back to how you planned and applied the information architecture and design to the website content. There are a couple of reasons why you might want to do that, and not all of them will apply, but it is good to take each into consideration:

  1. Logic - is this something that the user is expecting to be in the navigation? If it is an important section then you should have it in the navigation so they can't miss it (i.e. bring it up and not bury it down) or if it is something that belongs in part of a group, then you need to keep it together (whether it is in the sub navigation or page link).

  2. Consistency - does it break the same flow as other pages, and if so is this going to affect how the user finds information on other parts of the website?

  3. Maintenance - will you also have to do this for future content? What if you add other items or content to the navigation menu or on the page?

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Try to evaluate when your menu becomes painful to use by asking or observing visitors using your site. You might be surprised to learn that you might have to remove the 4th and also the 3rd (not always true, it's just to frame the idea).

Then make sure to revise the IA of your site/app to make sure the changes don't break the UX.

The simpler and more consistent the navigation is, the happier your users will be!

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You can try card sorting. It is an ideal technique to design navigation/information architecture. http://www.usability.gov/methods/design_site/cardsort.html

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