I've stumbled upon a page on my uni's internal sites that has something where I'm not sure if its a usability issue or not.

Here is a sketch of the page lay out. I better not show the actual thing.

what I'm talking about

So, what you've basically got for most of the site is a top menu/logo/title area and a left side quick links/quick info section, with the content filling most of the area to the bottom right.

This is a fairly standard design and works fine.

But there is one particular page of the website....where the page has another menu within the content section. Its a different style to the actual top menu, not just a duplicate, but it very much looks like what they've got is something that would be better as a totally separate page within the content section with this inner menu as a top menu.

This leaves an unusual impression on me, I didn't realise at first that the inner menu was a menu and thought it was just a static list of what this section of the site covers.

My question is....

Am I right in thinking there could be a usability issue here?

Is there much of a hard and fast rule about menus within menus? Or am I just imagining this as a problem?

Are there any guidelines about such things?

(Hoping you understand my image and explanation attempt here. haha.)

2 Answers 2


From your description, this looks like an older part of a previous application, which has been iFramed to the new application. If so, it’s probably there for archiving purposes only, and you need not to worry (even if User Experience is awkward).

However, if that’s not the case I would restructure this inline menu to be a part of the left hand side local menu. Like this:

enter image description here

  • I'm pretty sure its not an old system. I think its a case of the people making the inner site not being the same as those who made the outer site (and evidently not on speaking terms with them either) I agree having the secondary menu to the left would be better. My question though is - in general are menus in menus bad usability?- why? Is there any research about this? Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 6:48
  • @theotherone Yes it's bad. Your users will lose context if you have different menu structures on the same site. A one-for-all navigation menu makes the hierarchy easier to interpret. Especially for new users on the site. Consistency is key! Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 7:14

If i understand right your problem

enter image description here

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.