Here we go! Our great redesign of Frog begins. The first decision is to tackle the navigation. From the initial design and set up we had a crystal menu put in place and it worked well. All users found it easy to get around the pages and initially we didn’t really give two thoughts about its.
But this redesign has forced me to tackle the age-old problem of ‘how to navigate hundreds of pages easily and relatively quickly’. Looking back at the crystal menu I think now it’s probably run it’s course; over the past couple of years we’ve moved the menu around, deleted the odd option, renamed a few of them but more than that we’ve added, added and added to our crystal menu. At the last count we’d got around 30 menu options sitting on our menu, each with it’s own icon. Looking at it from an objective point of view it was clear this menu had become too cluttered, too cumbersome, too confusing to be of any real practical use.
But, what to change it to; what would work for our users to allow them to find instantly what they needed; what would allow us to empower our stakeholders in being confident users of Frog?
I’d experimented with different menus before on our own ICT website; initially just altering the templates as supplied by Frog for departments, whereby large icons represented the pages that pupils wanted to go to, and then on those pages would be the ‘Tab Folders’ brick allowing pupils to gain access to the files they needed. Initially I thought this was great, and so did other departments as they began to use the same idea, but the more I looked, the more it thought it was a bit too much of a faff to get files from there.
The changes for the ICT website was to introduce a quicker way for pupils to access the files from 5 clicks down to 2, not a massive amount granted but certainly noticeable for regular users. Being a big Apple fan, and regularly visiting the Apple website I was keen to replicate as best I could, and decided on text links across the top and then a dock to show the units. Immediate responses were certainly positive and the text links and dock worked great, in fact when looking at redeveloping the menus I thought about using the dock again.
But the problem with using the dock for the redesign of Frog is the number of options we needed to show. I had thought about rejigging things around and having no more than five options for the menu with further options available when the user went to that page. Having a chance to redevelop Frog has helped me develop a mantra when looking at problems, ‘As Much as Possible One Click Away’. Adding a dock, and then a subsequent page would go wholly against this.
And then, it seemed obvious, like the darkness of a cave suddenly illuminated with a magnificent bright light – a drop down menu would be the only answer to allow ‘As Much As Possible One Click Away’. We quickly set to work moving things around on our new drop down menus reorganising the headings, adding more links to the drop downs, creating extra pages for each department allowing staff and pupils to go direct to a departmental page rather than going through ‘School Departments’.
I’d like to say it’s been successfully implemented and taken on board by all, but after the initial introduction I had several staff who wanted the old crystal menus back as they knew were pages were and even now, several weeks after introduction, I still get at least half a dozen emails a day from pupils asking for us to change it back. But I’m sticking to my guns, I’m holding firm, hoping against hope that I am right and having these drop down menus will enable us to continue to keep ‘As Much As Possible One Click Away’.