When designing interfaces I will often go with a user intention oriented approach where the same action can be found in different places. Let me give two artificial examples:

Grocery store site

When opening a grocery store site there are many things a user might wish to do. One of the most popular things is check the 'store finder' to figure out the opening hours for a nearby location. Now, the users intention might both be to 'find a nearby store' or 'find the opening hours for his store'. Is it a good idea to have both a 'store finder' and 'opening hours' link (linking to the same page)? As in, for example just one big 'store finder' button on the homepage and two links with different names in the menu.

Setting menus

Lets say you want to invert screen colours. Typically this is located under accessibility (as historically it's meant to increase contrast on the screen), however it's also used by people who wish to use their devices late at night. Is it a good idea to put such a setting both under Display and Accessibility.

Because to be honest I think that's great UX design, yet for some reason (nearly1) nobody seems to be doing it... so am I wrong about this?


1 Amazon is doing it a bit where their ebook section is both linked from under 'Books & Audible' and under 'Kindle E-readers & Books'. But that's just one exception for millions of menus not doing this.

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    PS. As far as answers go I am fine both with a solid rebuttal of why this is a bad idea (or a list of dangers/disadvantages) or an answer agreeing it's a good idea and hypothesizing why it's not more common (especially in complex setting menus I miss this incredibly often :O ). Aug 24 '15 at 16:34
  • "'find a nearby store' or 'find the opening hours for his store'?" What does the latter mean? Aug 24 '15 at 21:26
  • @rewobs The first is if you want to go to the Walmarts but don't know where one is. The second is if you want to go to the local Walmarts, but don't know at what time they open/close. Aug 26 '15 at 9:10
  • You can often fix this with better organization and communication, eg "store locations and hours". Sep 23 '15 at 22:13

The redundancy (showing item multiple times) tend to increase probability that it will be noticed (the Amazon case). The key here is not over use such redundancy and make it clear that this is the same element-location.

In both of your cases it could lead to the minor confusions:

Grocery store site

Not a big deal but still the link, navigation and heading should clearly communicate location and its purpose. There should be no question on user side: Why if I click on 'opening hours', I see addresses? Combining both pointers in a single link actually could be a better solution. Something like 'find store and opening hours'

Setting menus

The question seems more about are invert screen colours intended to provide better accessibility in your case or more refined experience? If you look at usual OS settings though the functions of changing the decoration theme and more contrast or inverted color scheme sounds similar they in fact provide very different functions. In case it is really combines both functions I would be still cautious placing such global function in two different contexts but maybe keep it as in the example with 'grocery store site' in its separate location with the links from both sections.

  • Except setting items in a setting hierarchy aren't linking to anywhere, the setting is right inside there. Or to give a different example: Wifi hotspots, whenever I want to turn it makes sense to both look in the "Wifi" menu and the "Mobile Netwerk" menu, users will look in both, but it's hidden in just one. And regarding amazon, that's exactly what I am describing: Increasing visibility, so that a user looking for a certain thing finds it wherever he (logically) looks for it. Aug 24 '15 at 19:24
  • Some of these cases you're both citing are examples of poor information architecture, or IA. If an item feels "hidden" inside one branch, while at the same time it seems like an appropriate fit for another branch, then the concepts that those branches contain either aren't clearly named, or they conceptually overlap. This Settings example may be an irrelevant distraction.
    – JeromeR
    Aug 24 '15 at 21:06
  • @Alexander-Kiselev I wholly agree with your point about users arriving at a link destination to find the "wrong" content—content that does not coincide with the user's idea of what the link promised would be at the destination. I'm disappointed that this answer received a downvote; it's a good attempt at an answer. It gets +1 from me.
    – JeromeR
    Aug 24 '15 at 21:09
  • @DavidMulder technically speaking (I mean in engineer's ontology) Wifi belongs to Mobile Network (as well as Bluetooth). But as use cases for them are different, in majority of users taxonomies they are presented in a bit different branches. Aug 26 '15 at 8:48
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    @JeromeR I participated in a number of Card Sorting sessions and analysed some open examples and never seen fully identical taxonomies (grouping that works for all participants). The experience and viewpoints are very different even for the same person in a different point of time or context (even surrounding items context). Tomatoes, cucumbers and eggplants are berries and therefore are fruits according to biological classification but everyone is expecting them in vegetables section (even scientists). Aug 26 '15 at 9:03

I would say there is little, if any, need to duplicate navigational links. Have you done any usability testing to back up the efficacy of this technique? Are the users unfamiliar with the labels or naming convention that you are using?

Based on NNG's findings, redundant links on routing pages increase the perceived number of choices. Duplication can cause negative cognitive strain:

3. Redundant links on routing pages: Increasing the perceived number of choices

Cornell University’s Johnson School website was tested as part of our eyetracking study in 2010. The body of this routing page was well structured, containing links with succinct descriptions that explained the resulting content. However, the links in the left-hand submenu were repeats of the links in the body of the page. When people were evaluating link options, they had twice as many choices to scan because they didn't know these were redundant until they had committed the time to fixate on and read them.

enter image description here

http://www.johnson.cornell.edu (circa 2010)

There is a prevailing belief that duplicating links is not harmful, but it is. Designers know these links are duplicates, but users do not. So, they often end up scanning both sets of links – effectively doubling the amount of analysis they need to conduct to select the best link. Repeating links burdens your visitors. (More about university websites and their frequent problems in our University Websites training course.)

  • -1 I was about to upvote before reading the link, but when examining the article you will find it to be about an entirely different situation. Neither of the cases I described was placing the same link twice on the same screen. The destination was similar in the first example, but the link was different (as the text is the most important part of a link and the different texts would just decrease cognitive load as the user doesn't need to think 'so, I want to find opening hours, but there is no opening hours link... ehm, store finder maybe?'). Aug 24 '15 at 19:30
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    And I have sadly only once had a chance to do some testing on this approach, in that one case it marginally helped (but that case was a lot less clear cut than the examples I gave now). And either way, a single test is hardly normative (though I might end up writing it as an answer~), but although I would love doing more testing my main job isn't UX design or even design at all (though I do tend to attract some interesting UX design work from time to time :D ). Aug 24 '15 at 19:31
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    (And btw, the same goes for amazon's case (definitely a well tested case), the redundant links aren't on the screen at the same time, but rather in two different logical sub menus, both of which are part of a different section of the menu.) Aug 24 '15 at 19:35
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    The key piece I took away from the article was that "designers know these links are duplicates, but users do not." If the links have different names, the implication to the user is that they will load different pages. This may impact your user's trust or confidence (as mentioned elsewhere in the same article). YMMV. Aug 24 '15 at 20:16
  • So you do understand how the type of 'duplicates' you took away from the article are in no way relevant to this question? As far as the user perceives he did load a different page (exactly the page he was looking for), it just so happens in that specific example that the exact same technical feature answers multiple human intentions. Aug 24 '15 at 20:36

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