Our users are professionals who use ‘Connect families to support’ to complete a form to request a voluntary and community sector (VCS) service contacts a family. We also have Manage connection requests users who work for VCS organisations who receive requests to support families. There are different parts to the service, searching for a service to make a request and viewing requests.

There are 3 digital services in the Family Hubs programme that professional and VCS users may need to navigate between.

A professional user may want to:

  • view requests they have sent on Manage connection requests
  • view or update their account details on Manage accounts
  • search for a service and request a new connection using Connect families to support

A VCS organisation user may want to:

  • view and respond to requests they have received on Manage connection requests
  • view or update their account details on Manage family support services and accounts
  • view or update their service details on Manage family support services and accounts

GOV.UK One Login

We will be using GOV.UK One Login for identity and access management across all the services in the programme.

Adding a global navigation

We identified some parts of our user journey where users hit a dead end. For example, if a professional user did not have permission to share a family’s details and followed the unhappy path. They reached a page which explained they could not proceed and had no options to navigate onwards.

We also assumed that as users signed in, we’d need to give an option to sign out somewhere on every page of the service. Using a global navigation is common practice and is used on many services, it gives a top-level navigation with clear sections of the service. The Interaction Design Foundation define global navigation as:

'an interface reserved for design elements affording movement from one set of content to another. This area may include titled sections, dropdown menus, buttons, tabs, search bars and homepage links. The region is maintained across all different pages to provide a consistent means of traveling to anywhere in the application or website.'

There are existing services using DfE branding that have global navigation, including Early years child development training. We have used the same design. The navigation is included in the header of every page on the service. Links on the global navigation are located on the right of the header. The header uses the class "govuk-header app-header" with DfE styling.


The global navigation options for professional users are:

  • Sent requests
  • My account
  • Search for a service

The global navigation options for VCS organisation users are:

  • Received requests
  • My account

The label is ‘Search for a service’ rather than ‘Make a new request’, as the point in the journey a user goes to is the search by postcode page on Connect families to support. At this point users are searching for services, and only start to make a connection when they select the ‘Connect family to service’ button on the service details page.

We will test this navigation and the labels we’ve used with users to make sure they understand how to navigate around the services, and where the menu options take them.

We also need to understand more about how One Login affects how users navigate between services.

Iterating to improve the navigation experience on mobile

Using the original Department for Education (DfE) service header caused an issue with how the menus appeared on mobile. The menu button dropdown was small and located in the top right corner, with the navigation in the bottom right. The menu button needs to be bigger and more obvious to the user and the navigation options should span across the screen.

Screenshot showing how menus appeared on mobile devices with the old DfE service header , as described above.

New DfE header

We have iterated the design to switch to using a new DfE header for digital services. It is requirement to use the DfE header as our service will be hosted on education.gov.uk. The new header has been developed by the Design Ops team is part of a new DfE Front end, meaning it will be consistent with other DfE services. The new header has a large menu button with the global navigation options spanning across the screen. This clearly highlights where the user currently is on the service.

Screenshot showing how menus appear on mobile devices with the new DfE header, as described above.

Previously the ‘Home’ link was part of the global navigation that sent users to the start page. We have decided to remove ‘Home’ from the navigation as there will be different start pages across the services and having a ‘Home’ link may confuse users. The ‘Connect families to support’ in the header now takes users to the start page which has replaced the need for the ‘Home’ link.

Previously we had ‘Requests sent’ as the second navigation link and 'Search for service' as the third navigation link. However, the journey for local authority professionals is:

  1. Search for a service.
  2. Connect the family to support.
  3. View the requests sent dashboard.

Therefore, it makes more sense for the navigation to be in that order, so we have put 'Search for service' first followed by ‘Requests sent’. Another reason for this change is because when a user first signs up to the service they will have an empty ‘Requests sent’ dashboard. Making this the first link in the navigation may be confusing for users.