We have a rather complex web service that allows users to submit private selling ads. Other users of the service can "apply" to those ads and chat about each one. Each seller can have multiple applications for a single ad and decide which one he/she wants to sell product to.
Our interface looks like this:
When buyer applies for a product, seller receives notification about that. And now it looks like this:
There's a badge in main navigation (My deals), when you open that page, there's a second and third navigation that splits sellers and buyers, and splits ads by its status (ended or inactive ads also can receive notifications).
So, for each message there are 4 badges visible on a page, that guides user to the place where you should open your messages.
We tried to make two different pages where on one you see only messages and on another there is all submitted ads, but it was very confusing for users - the same ad was in two places simultaneously.
We are looking for a way to reduce badge count or make some alternatives to badges. We tried to highlight tabs instead of putting badge there, but visually it was looking as the tab was selected.