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We have a web portal with a main menu and submenu. The items in the submenu link to an overview page of more articles.

There are 6 submenu items. 5 link to an overview page which let the user choose an article and then go directly to the detail page. 1 of them links to a calculation tool. Right now there is only 1 tool but there will be more in the future (1-2 years), so the 1 link directly goes to the detail page with the calculation tool.

Some of my colleagues think this is not logical. They say that, since the previous 5 submenu items navigate to an overview page first, the 1 link should also go to an overview page (and also show the one item) before the user can go to the detail page.

Flow of what I designed:

submenu item 1 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 2 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 3 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 4 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 5 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 6 - calculation tool (detail page)

Flow of what they suggest:

submenu item 1 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 2 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 3 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 4 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 5 - overview page of articles - detail page  
submenu item 6 - overview page of the one calculation tool - calculation tool (detail page)

Is it really necessary to direct the user to an overview page—showing a single item—for the sake of consistency?

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Even if you would have a few tools. ( let's say 5 tools ) it would still be good to allow the users to jump directly to one of them. I don't really know what the calculator is for in your example but have it like this. I know your website has a calculator and I would like to reach it. Why would you make me click the main menu to access a submenu that takes me to an overview page where I can find the calculator ?

You can use a differentiator and that is enough. When you would have more tools you could also have a third submenu that shows them.

TLDR: Do not let make the user go to an overview page ( especially if there is only one tool in there ).

enter image description here

  • Thank you. I agree with you. One of the devs said that to keep it consistent with the other menu items it should have an overview page, even if it has just one item. I don't agree with him on exactly your reason. – Agrotera Dec 5 '19 at 15:13
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Remember that all software has the same purpose to make life easier for people...

In software design, friction is basically anything that makes your users think, wonder or question. Reducing friction is key to making life easier for people.

see: Don't Make Me Think


Your colleagues are correct in that doing 1 of 6 things differently increases friction. (Where's the overview? Did I do something wrong? Am I on the same site? etc.)

You are correct that adding an extra click to a useless overview page doesn't make life easier for your users.

When two fundamental principles of design are in conflict always choose the option which makes life easier for people. (you will probably need to ask them)


A better option may be to separate the tools from the list of articles in such a way that users know they are a different interaction even before clicking them.

Line Separator

line separator

A line separator is a good indicator but if users are still wondering why sometimes an overview happens and sometimes it doesn't you may need to separate tools out some other way

  • Once upon a time, there was this software which didn't make life easier for people. It died. The End. :) – DaveAlger Dec 6 '19 at 18:57

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