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I'm designing the menu for a website with three main sections. The main menu does not have sub-menus, and is used to navigate between the sections of the site. Since the different sections of the site are substantially different and all but one of the sections doesn't require a sub-menu for navigation, I'm not sure that the section menu needs to be in the header at all; also, putting the section menu in the header would require a redesign of the header across all sections.

The solution I am currently toying with is putting the section menu on the last element of the breadcrumb bar. Something like this:

enter image description here

The menu above is a hack on the Responsive Multi-Level Menu, which has a usable example here, the main difference being that I changed the trigger from a hamburger menu to a link. (I will also need to change the submenu trigger to the arrow, since otherwise pages with sub-menus are unreachable)

My question concerns usability, especially since I haven't seen menus in breadcrumbs before and I don't have access to UX testing. Will this approach create problems for users, and/or are there ways around those problems? (I'm not opposed to alternative suggestions in the comments)

  • Hard to navigate a site without menus. You should probably include the sub-navigation in your main menus. You should also include a site map. – Mark Feb 2 '17 at 18:18
  • There are menus - the question is regarding the usability of the menu as described above. I've also detailed reasons why I'd prefer not to put it in the main menu. Do you have any insight you can offer on your suggestion that contrasts it to what I've detailed above? – jobu1342 Feb 2 '17 at 19:27
  • It is a bit complex to understand what is going on, could you include more screens? Do the different sections of the site (do you mean pages?) have a different menu each? Is the "section menu" the menu, or are there two menus? What does the breadcrumb bar have to do with the menu? The menu appears behind a link (that acts like a button?)? – Alvaro Feb 2 '17 at 20:47
  • @Alvaro I updated the image per your request. You can see what I'm calling the section menu above - it is the traditional menu. The menu shows up when you click on the last item of the breadcrumb menu. – jobu1342 Feb 3 '17 at 1:02
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In my opinion it is not a good solution to connect a menu with the breadcrumbs:

Many users know the breadcrumbs pattern. They expect that breadcrumbs indicate the current path through the hierarchy of the site - not more and not less. It is unlikely that they will click on the last breadcrumb item as they don't expect anything there (esp. because the last item usually shows the current location - nobody will click on it, therefore it is often greyed out). Thus many people won't notice your menu.

Ideas:

  • put the submenu on the side
  • Can the contents of the submenu pages be displayed on one scrollable page? In this case your submenu can be transformed to a table of contents (e.g. like in wikipedia articles).
  • I agree with the submenu not to be hidden in the breadcrumbs – Alvaro Feb 3 '17 at 10:41
  • I get the breadcrumbs pattern argument - that is why I posted this question. There is a counter-argument, though: breadcrumbs are a form of navigation; it isn't too much of a leap for users to see it as a place to drill down farther into the site (as long as they notice it in the first place). In fact, if a user were to see it in the new light, I don't think they would think twice about it. – jobu1342 Feb 3 '17 at 17:00
  • Interestingly, I asked one of our employees to look around the manual. Her job entails browsing many different sites. After discovering the menu (it did take a couple clicks), she told me she liked where it was on the page - right in front of her and "easy to read". Thoughts? – jobu1342 Feb 3 '17 at 17:03
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bread crumbs are used to show the trail of your navigation, Including menu in that is not advisable as a user couldn't get to know about it in the first look, the best way is to use sub-navigation like tabbing. Also as you said the contents are different it is better to go with sub-navigation

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I don't think most users would expect to find a menu in one of the breadcrumbs. I've mocked up an idea of how you could handle the submenu of a particular section: by including a horizontal nav menu for that section.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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