In an accordion menu, is it confusing to use the same name in two separate category? Especially in one where the menus will be expanded by default.

Just to demonstrate I have a vertical navigation with these mockup data, take notice of Settings and Albums:

|  Music   |
| Songs    |
| Albums   |
| Playlist |
| Settings |
| Pictures |
| Photos   |
| Albums   |
| Settings |

Is this acceptable, or should you be more clear? E.g. adding a prefix "Music", resulting in "Music Settings"? Or is there a better way to approach this?


Always be clear when using labels. That's why they're there.

I'd go for music settings, picture settings, etc for all the settings labels. I'm not sure about the albums, though. A photo album makes sense, but 'album' is a general term for music. Maybe it does not need 'music album' there. Check with your users.

Check out this article about information scent. I think it will benefit you greatly.

Information scent refers to the extent to which users can predict what they will find if they pursue a certain path through a website.

  • Thanks for you input! I read the article and going by that, just adding "music" or "photo" in front of "settings" would allow users to use less mental effort to find their way, correct?
    – Dom
    Jul 26 '17 at 12:00
  • Yes. Otherwise users might be insecure and ask questions like; "Hmm, I have seen 'settings' before. Are these other settings? I don't know". That's not what you want. Jul 26 '17 at 12:02
  • That sounds very reasonable to me, I'll suggest this to my co-workers! Thanks again!
    – Dom
    Jul 26 '17 at 12:03

You could try using 'Collections' for pictures, similar what Lightroom does. (I'm biased here: I've used Lightroom for years)

In spotify, itunes, pandora, and music company sites, 'album' still refers to an explicit collection of songs an artist issues. It's a unit of purchase and marketing (even though we can buy songs as well). 'Releases' is also used from music companies as well, but seems to imply something new and fresh ('new release').

In photo apps, albums are more like curated collections for viewing. A photographer sells prints or books, not necessarily 'albums' (exception of a wedding album, which is not for mass distribution). If your users will be making saved queries that will be updated automatically based on a series of conditions, then you can call it a 'smart collection'

Here's how lightroom differentiates collections vs smart collections:

Lightroom has two types of collections: regular Collections and Smart Collections. Smart Collections are live and they are created as a result of filtering your photos according to rules that you write. You cannot add an image to a Smart Collection by dragging and dropping it into the collection.

So if you plan on offering saved queries, you have this concept available as well.

Test with users and see if they understand the concept.


download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

  • That's an excellent synonym for "albums"! Just to be clear though, the premises of differentiating labels, does that still apply to you? Since you still have "Settings" labeled the same in your example image?
    – Dom
    Jul 26 '17 at 13:12
  • Ah, good point. I agree with @Nick Groeneveld and have 'Music Settings' and 'Picture Settings', but since you now have unique names to differentiate, you may not need 'Music' in front of albums. Again, test to prove this out.
    – Mike M
    Jul 26 '17 at 13:54
  • I think if the sub-options are as clearly distinguished as in the wire-frame above, then, for example, the two "Settings" options don't need their prefixes (because they're both obviously "under" their respective headings), but if you've got space to repeat the heading (as above), then it reinforces clarity.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 27 '17 at 10:49
  • If we assume we got room (to the point it becomes cluttered), then to me it feels like you're able to safe-bet by using a prefix, while as if you don't use a prefix, you are risking to put more mental effort to users by confusing them.
    – Dom
    Jul 27 '17 at 12:17

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