Planning the menu

At Firefly, we have the ongoing privilege of seeing how schools use Firefly as part of everyday school life. We have learned so much, whether that's in seeing features being used that our team poured over convinced they would be useful, or by seeing Firefly used in ways that we had never even considered! One of the key areas where this feedback has been particularly helpful is when setting up Firefly for the first time and planning and preparing for that upcoming training or launch date.

Menu structure

The main site navigation is the way by which teachers and students will know where they are and how to find information and resources. It is important to have the main navigation finished before introducing too many people in the school to Firefly as subsequent changes can be confusing and off-putting. The student experience is a helpful consideration when designing the structure (it is very easy to inadvertently recreate the structure of the shared drive or previous intranet/VLE).

Creating the menu in Firefly is very easy via by creating, modifying and reordering sections via the control panel.

It's also useful to remember that any page can also be accessed directly using the dashboard via recommended pages and bookmarks.

Sections

This first set of sections displays the main navigation and is the starting point to the route to any desired destination. The example below shows a typical senior school menu. There should be about 4-7 top level menu items. If there are more, it will present too many choices as well get too wide for some screens. Any less then there will likely be complications further down the menu.

The next level of sections takes someone into the content they are looking for. This example shows a typical menu. 

Here are a few things to bear in mind when considering what should go in the 'Subjects' menu:

  • Try to ensure there are as few 'clicks' as possible to get to subject areas. E.g. It is usually better to have 'Physics' than 'Science' -> 'Physics'. Older students take 'Physics' rather than 'Science' so it makes more sense for them too.
  • Be careful if you use the idea of organising by faculty or department. Most students know that they take Geography but might not realise they should look for it in the Humanities department.
  • Don't exceed 15-18 drop-down menu items. Once it gets to this size, the menu will begin to go off the bottom of most tablet screens. Consider breaking the top level menu into 'Subjects A-L' and 'Subjects M-Z'.

Write permissions

Once the menu structure is in place, the next thing to do is to set permissions so that after the enthusiasm built in the training session, teachers can immediately begin creating content in their curriculum area. This is best done once Firefly is integrated with your MIS (SIMS, Pass etc.) so that groups can be easily assigned. If you use Active Directory (AD), these groups can be used instead or in addition. The best approach will have been discussed in your planning meeting but if you're not sure how to assign permissions, please contact our support team.

Quick Menu Checklist

Here is a summary of the key issues to bear in mind. You can also refer to your demo site to see some typical menu examples.

  • Keep menu titles short
  • Aim to have between 4 and 7 top sections visible to students
  • You can have more subsections but once you get to 15-18, it might be time for another section
  • Does the navigation make sense for your students?
  • You can have links to internal school web services (e.g. webmail, library) and external websites either in the menu or on key pages
  • You can set permissions on sections (but keep it simple). E.g. Staff section can be hidden from pupils