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Council Toolkit and non-universal navigation

Stumbled on Aberdeenshire Libraries website earlier this week. It’s built on Council Toolkit, an HTML, CSS and javascript framework that’ll help you build a council (or similar) website quickly.

It’s not a million miles from gov uk. You get a free set of solidly designed templates (home page, guide, article, signpost etc.) which you can slot pretty easily into your CMS of choice.

One of the things I like about Council Toolkit is the way it handles navigation. On council (and library) websites we often publish lots of sections. Instead of implementing an unwieldy universal navigation, the home page and category templates put navigation in the main content area, while leaving a few universal actions in the header area – a good idea:

Screenshot of the Aberdeenshire Libraries home page navigation area

The Aberdeenshire Libraries home page simply links to its website sections.

There’s something old fashioned about this approach – the home page is essentially an index, but I think it has 4 advantages over a traditional navbar:

A screenshot of a sub page

A deeper page within the website. It uses the category template, which uses the same styles as the home page.

We’re currently reviewing the Suffolk Libraries website as it’s a grown a lot since I rebuilt it in 2013. I’ll definitely be taking the Council Toolkit approach to navigation, although I won’t be using the toolkit itself – as for why, that’s for a different post.