I'm working on overhauling an interface that has two clearly defined levels of navigation, and then one murky level. Clicking on the first level will reveal sub-options which correspond to that initial heading. Mousing over these sub-options will reveal vertical menus containing further pages per sub-option.
The problem is, the sub-options themselves do not meaningfully connect to any of their menu "children". In fact, clicking on one of these menu headings will take you to an entirely different location. In an attempt to redesign this system into a tabbed interface with an always-displayed horizontal outlining of all navigation links, I find myself unsure how to solve this problem.
Do I morph the second-level choices (the previous menu headings) into more general pages (e.g. Programs and Assessments instead of SpecificDepartmentHere's Program Activity) with unfortunately minimal display in the content pane before the user reaches the third level? Or do I promote the children to the second level, running the risk of overloading a user with choices?
I feel as though the first option is best for a new user, but the experienced ones might soon find it as another screen to click through before reaching that last level.
I apologize if this is hard to envision, or if my language is unrefined to adequately describe the situation. I'm definitely green at this.