Working on a website that has 3 levels. Some of the second level pages have sub-pages beneath and therefore become landing pages to access the third level content. They just seem incredibly pointless a page that sign posts to all the sub-pages. Is there a way to avoid the use of landing pages?
This has come up a few times in the sites that I've built for my clients. Generally I'll walk through these options with them:
- If the 3rd level pages don't contain too much content, we see if we can aggregate all of them into the 2nd level 'landing page' so that it in effect becomes the main page for all of that content, and we can remove the 3rd level pages.
If the 3rd level pages contain too much information to aggregate there's a further two options:
- If the 2nd level 'landing page' is acting primarily as a routing page, i.e. it's just a simple navigation menu, then we'll often get rid of the page completely and allow access to the 3rd level pages via a drop down menu in the nav bar.
- If the landing page needs to act as a summary page for all of the 3rd level pages (for example a doctor might have a General Practice 2nd level page with 3rd level pages such as Women, Men, Sports, etc) then we keep the landing page with it's own links to the 3rd level page, as well as the drop down menu in the nav bar.
It really comes down to the amount of content in the 3rd level pages, and how closely related the content is. For example, if your 3rd level pages are all pretty different in terms of content, it might not make sense to aggregate them into the 2nd level parent page.
For me, in the past, it comes down to a mix of both, and the process begins with talking though the content hierarchy with the client.
Optimise the content so that the users of the site don't need to drill down further than they have to, in order to find the information they're looking for.
It depends on what users typically do. Categorized shopping sites have to deal with this problem and do so by attempting to show what the user would be interested in based on the category they are in.
Alternatively, if you can't aggregate the data (whether the data is different or your are primarily looking for input) you can try deducing the default action and have that page act as your landing page.
There is no rule stating these 2nd level pages are necessary, and if you find them useless, you can forgo them.
Nevertheless, there are times that they can bring benefit to the users, such as those mentioned by Chris Paynter. Another example could be where there are numerous pages on the third level, and you want to spread all the optioned in front of the users in a comfortable manner (a dropdown menu on the first level might be insufficient for this).