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My company has a product marketing site for our web app. The web app and marketing site have 2 audiences: students/parents and college financial aid admins. The students/parents apply for financial aid and submit the data to the college financial aid admins, where they do stuff with the data.

Currently when you land on the product marketing site, you have two choices: click on the students/parents button that takes you to that section (where you learn about the app, prepare to apply, etc.). The school admin button takes you to a different part of the site just for, well, school admins. This part of the site is (1) a place of info for current users, and (2) tries to get new schools to sign up to use the app for its students.

The entire point and only point of the home page is to just direct you to the correct side.

I've noticed that some students end up on the school side, completing the "learn more" contact form. I have no idea why some (not a lot) do this, but it seems obviously to me that these particular people don't realize they are in a particular part of the website they don't need to be in.

Question: does it make sense to separate the entire website like this? When you're on the school side, you really have to dig through the footer at the bottom to get to the student/parent side. And when you're on the student/parent side, ditto.

Would it better to just have "one" cohesive site where there is a persistent nav at the top to allow switching between the two sides? The problem is, we're not selling the app to students/parents. If their school requires them to use it, then they would come to the marketing site for info, tips,etc. At the same time, we are using the site to marketing the product to schools not yet signed up. How would I mix this in to one cohesive site?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I recently came across that designed their nav that way. Quantcast.com You can access the other site from the navigation at all times, even though the clients of side A do not really have a reason to navigate to side B. The upside to this is that people talk and showing both sides may be useful if students/parents see this site and want to share it with financial aid admins.

Also, it may be beneficial for financial aid admins to understand what the students and parents are seeing.

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+1 there is indeed absolutely no need to hide the information about the other side. It is not like it is "need to know" basis information. And the scenario you sketch with parents or even students alerting admin staff to a possibility, you do indeed want switching between "sides" to be as easy as possible. –  Marjan Venema Jun 8 '13 at 9:45
    
Thanks to the both of you. I'll think about what you've suggested. –  Mark Bubel Jun 8 '13 at 12:19
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