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I'm developing a website for a company website that targets two audiences: consumers and wholesalers. The menu items and content available for each group is completely different.

Does it make sense to allow the user to choose which audience he or she is (either a consumer or a wholesaler) and then a nav menu for that specific audience will come up (and perhaps have one of the menus as the default menu)? I've seen several sites do this but am not sure whether this is effective or not from a UX point of view. The alternative is to have one nav menu with content for both audiences mixed in.

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I would have a look at manufacturer's sites that target both consumer, small businesses and enterprises. Especially the pc manufacturer's come to mind. However, they also often have product lines per segment and not much overlap. For example Dell and HP both have product lines targeting consumers and product lines targeting businesses. On the other hand the distinction between small businesses and enterprises is usually a matter of purchasing process, price conditions etc, so may have more similarities with your scenario. –  Marjan Venema Jul 6 '13 at 9:01

4 Answers 4

Mixed menu is not a good idea because items which are not related to user tasks create noise. I.e. they are visible and actionable but they are unnecessary and irrelevant.

Mixed menu makes work more hard (mental load), confusing and creates possible error points.

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I agree with the other commenters that if the audiences really are completely different (people can be both consumer and wholesaler, but not something in between), you should fully separate the experience.

Don't make people choose, though. This blocks the flow, creates unnecessary cognitive load and forces people to place themselves into the categories you've selected. For instance, they may think of themselves as a distributor rather than a wholesaler, which will cause some dissonance.

Just try to get people to the right context as in the first place. Make the consumer the default (since commercial partners will be more forgiving), and make sure that everything outside the site (business cards, leaflets, people answering the phone), sends them to a nice, memorable URL for the wholesaler's section.

Finally, there's still a good chance that people end up in the wrong place, so make a nice panic button to get from one place to the other, and put it in the locus of attention. Make sure the two environments are visually distinct, so people can recognize immediately if they're in the wrong place.

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Actually you should keep the contents separate for both the type of users. It will be user friendly and better to manage from developers as well as tester's point of view.

From UX perspective, keeping the content separate will not confuse any of the users.

Hope my point is correct.

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Big number one rule, you must keep the contents from the menu/site separate for both the users type. They both will have different tasks to do, different information architecture so from a simple point of view they should have separate user accounts with separate privileges.

This way your website will have different content and menu information, therefore be more user friendly, and that's what you are trying to achieve.

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