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I'm always a bit thrown when a primary navigation item doesn't link to a page. However I do sometimes see primary navigation items used as category headings for a drop down menus.

  1. Should primary navigation items always link to page?
  2. If they do link to a pages is it OK if those pages are just a section landing pages or summaries of the pages below them, or should they have unique content?
  3. If they do not link to pages, what cues do you give to the user to set that expectation?
  • I don't really follow you I'm afraid. What would a navigation option link to if it isn't a page? – JonW Feb 19 '15 at 15:54
  • It wouldn't link to anything. It would just be a label for a drop down. I've seen this pattern several times, but I'm not sure if it's intuitive or not. – Kuro Neko Mar 23 '15 at 21:49
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Agreed with the above... whenever possible, when you have a situation like this it's nice to think of user cognitive load and reduce that as much as possible. Does it make their mind have to think?

However, the times where it's ok to NOT have the primary nav go somewhere is if the action to open a drop down nav is via the click action as opposed to hover. If it's not a hover then that can typically be enough for them to have already taught them the lesson that their intentional action of clicking the button does the opening and closing. Now it takes no thought at all to look at and click a sub menu item... but otherwise, if it's on Hover it's better to allow for a landing page. (Landing pages are nice to build anyway because you never know when you can use that for other reasons - if nothing else search engine fodder).

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  1. Should primary navigation items always link to page?

Typically speaking, yes. I believe that is the best user experience and the least confusing to the user. But if you don't, see my answer to question 3 below.


  1. If they do link to a pages is it OK if those pages are just a section landing pages or summaries of the pages below them, or should they have unique content?

It's totally ok for it to be a landing page. I typically make them almost like a sitemap for that area.

E.g. on my brother's roofing site I did for him he has a Products nav item and it's landing page that lists the product lines and then you click which product line you want to go to to view its specific content.

It looks like this:

landing page

Then if you clicked say, Royal Sovereign Shingles, you'd get:

actual product page


  1. If they do not link to pages, what cues do you give to the user to set that expectation?

You simply just make the cursor the default pointer indicating it's not a link.

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