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Non-profit client I am training to maintain (not redesign) the site I created for him has baffled me with his desire to alleviate his member users' confusion of knowing to click on a stand-alone common primary nav menu link. To alleviate this confusion (as he understands it), he has duplicated the About Us page and placed the duplicate as a sub-menu link under his About Us page. I fussed. He simply changed the name of the sub-menu item to Learn More, but it is still the exact same page. He claims his members don't understand they are to click on stand-alone primary navigational menu links. I find this baffling and continue to strongly object his changes. If he insists on keeping his About Us page as a sub-menu item of his About Us primary navigational menu link, what are specific risks that can occur? Is this actually an acceptable UX design option? I can't imagine this wouldn't have serious repercussions for site integrity and SEO, not to mention simply looking silly. Appreciate your input!

I had hoped to add screen captures, but the sub-menu is hover activated, so I can't grab the image. I hate to reveal the client's site for his sake, so let's try this for starters:

About Us (primary nav menu link)

  • Learn More (the same exact page as the About Us page; only the link name has changed to Learn More in the sub-menu)
  • How to Become an Official (the main focus of the public side of the site -- I have SEO objections to this page being moved to the About Us sub-menu as well)
  • Contact Us

This is a massive site with multiple cross-links. I am concerned about the links getting scrambled. I am also concerned about Google taking issue with this "looped menu" construct. If you agree my concerns are valid, please provide your experience that I might pass this experience on to my client. If you think the client is fine with this navigational construct, please let me know if this is nothing more than a UX option. Either way, thanks for your feedback!

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Well, there are many possible scenarios, but based on your description of "sub-menu displays on hover" it seems your client has a point, because many users understand that primary navigation with sub-menus are just an interaction mechanism to display such sub-menu.

However, while he has a point, that point is based on a faulty structure, which leads to what you perceive as a mistake. So both of you are correct, only that your client is correct because the element is wrong, and therefore he's trying to fix that error in a way that works, but has issues (as you mention)

The solution

Simply make the primary nav interact onClick (this way it will also work on mobile!) and make the links for that primary nav only act as triggers for sub-menus. This is a very common way to work with sub navs, probably the most common approach

  • Thanks, @Devin. I appreciate your reply. I want to get the sub-menus off the About Us link, returning it to stand-alone. Users simply need to click a primary menu nav link to access the page. There are two menu links that click through to sister sites; no prob there. I see what you mean when there are sub-menu items, but not stand-alones. I'm using Divi for Wordpress. I can't imagine why anyone would not understand to click on a stand-alone menu item. What am I missing? And what are the repercussions of the client adding the same page as a sub-menu item to the identical primary link? :-) – Pro31 Aug 23 '16 at 0:49
  • this scenario is completely different to what you described in your question. If you don't have secondary nav items, then you obviously don't need a sub menu – Devin Aug 23 '16 at 0:56
  • Sorry I wasn't clear earlier. Too baffled to know how to ask right. I agree there's no need for a sub-menu. I'm trying to convince my client there's no need for a sub-menu, particularly if said sub-menu link points to the SAME PAGE as the primary menu link. (Prim: About -> Sub: Learn More (this is the About page) -- both point to the same page!). I keep fixing it, but he keeps adding redundant sub-menus back! I'm looking for worst case scenario of what happens when he does this so I can stop the bleeding by shocking him into reality. Thanks again for your input. :-) – Pro31 Aug 23 '16 at 2:09
  • It will only be confusing since some people will click on both lonks until they realize it's the same page. Google won't penalize hom for duplicate content at all, you can have inner links to your page in any fashion you want, so it's a matter of confusion. You're correct and it should be avoided. BUT as someone who has dealt with clients for decades.... If he insist, just leave him. Be clear on your position and tell him why you think yours is the correct path, but if he insist, you can't do anything – Devin Aug 23 '16 at 13:44
  • Thanks again so much! I really appreciate your feedback. I've gone ahead and changed it back to a way that makes sense, but if he changes it again, I'll just leave it alone and put a qualifier under his link on my own site, something like "client-managed." Shame, though. This was my finest and most detailed site ever. Oh, well. – Pro31 Aug 23 '16 at 17:45

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