This is a long post about a huge project I’ve been working on for the past few months. The tl;dr is: the template for all of our websites is changing slightly in the next few weeks.
More details below:
I’ve been working for the past few months on migrating all of our website content into the new version of the campus Content Management System (CMS). The new CMS has a lot of features that are appealing:
But the new CMS has a few changes, as well, including:
There will be a few changes to the CMS Homepage, as well. The way our users navigate our site has changed a lot in the five years I’ve been watching our analytics. Now, more folks search Google for the pages they need on the library website instead of browsing through the library homepage. In addition, the usage of certain tools has dropped, while other tools have seen an increase in use.
Some of you may also have gotten an email from the Web Team over the past few months about new permissions you’ve been given to the CMS. This is because there are a lot of pages that other folks could be editing, but those folks lacked the ability to edit the raw HTML we use as content in our current CMS. If you’ve received an email, I’ll be in touch over the next few weeks to work with you one-on-one with the new CMS.
I should also mention that you don’t have to do the updates. I’m still happy to do them for you, but sometimes it’s easier for the person requesting the change to just go in and do it themselves rather than type everything up for me.
You can preview the (work in progress) CMS4 website at http://wwwtest.gvsu.edu/library_new.
In addition to migrating all of the content over to the new CMS, I’ve been working on redesigning all of our vendor systems to match the new template. I’m also doing some performance upgrades by streamlining the styles and scripts that run on each site, although I’ll likely post more about that at a later date. Here are the systems with notes about changes, and links to preview the new site (if available):
The navigation bar was removed since the only functions that weren’t available elsewhere were for requesting items. In the menu’s place you’ll find buttons for requesting each type of item. Eventually, I’ll consolidate the request forms like I did in Ares so there will be just a single request button.
Ares hasn’t changed much from the previous version, although the navigation bar was rewritten and improved.
LibGuides will gain some screen width without the navigation to the left. Other than that, I haven’t changed anything in the content area. LibGuides doesn’t make it easy to preview your changes without changing over the live site, so I will have to work on testing this site at a time when it isn’t getting much use (probably next week).
There is no way to preview the new LibGuides template at this time.
360Link will get the new template and some slightly restyled buttons, but otherwise will work the same. We still haven’t “upgraded” to 360Link 2.0, because the system still feels like a rough draft to me and Jeff, and until ProQuest polishes it a bit (or I just write a new script to fix all the issues) we’ll stay with 1.0.
There is no way to preview the new LibGuides template at this time.
Since we switched our campus log in system to CAS (Central Authentication System) we’ve only needed one page for EZProxy: the page that shows when someone’s IP address has been blocked. Based on research that my intern, Kathy Kosinski of the University of Michigan, did this summer, we’ve also added a little explanation of why an IP address might be banned, along with a few places to either learn more or get help.
There isn’t a way to preview this unless we ban your IP address. :)
The catalog is the biggest challenge of all of these template redesigns, but I’ve set aside next week to dive in to tie up all the loose ends here. There are a lot of outstanding issues with the existing catalog I am hoping to address while reworking the template, including standardizing the font size across every page (there are over 120 font-size declarations in the default CSS file from Sierra, making it very hard to get a consistent feel across every page). I’ve already swapped out a few buttons, but expect slight changes to the look of the buttons, as well as these updates I’ve been working on since Spring:
I’ll post updates next week when I have some progress to show on the OPAC.
Some of the systems that we’ve had for a while have never been brought into the library template, and I’ll be bringing a few along with this refresh. In addition, we’ve added another system that will also share th library template.
As I mentioned above, the Journals A-Z tool has seen a huge jump in usage over the past few years, largely because it now contains all of our print materials as well as our ejournals. I’ve never touched the journal finding, but I’ll be working the library template into this system over the next few weeks. It may not switch over until after classes start, but it’s never matched the library template so that buys a little time.
The Library Status Page somehow was built without a lot of the components of the Library template. With this refresh, I’m making sure that all the navigation and look and feel our users expect from our tools makes it into the status page.
LibAnswers is a new system we’re launching this fall, with content researched and created by my former intern, Kathy Kosinski. This morning Kristin and I went over a list of updates given to us by the talented folks in UX at each location, after they read through all of the answers and corrected things and suggested updates. Thanks to everyone who sent in notes to help make this site better!
You can see the Knowledge Base at http://help.library.gvsu.edu. It is a new top-level link in the website’s navigation.
Kristin and I knew that when the Knowledge Base launched, we wanted to better integrate those self-service help articles with our chat widget, since a lot of the same questions get asked over chat. So, I built a new chat widget that integrates the two services. Here’s what it does:
A big thanks to Springshare developer Derik Badman for making the API change I asked for to make this possible (he did it in about 4 hours). Springshare is the best library vendor I have ever worked with!
I’m working on building a new hours module to replace the one designed by Institutional Marketing. They have put a lot of time and effort into that tool, but they didn’t feel that they could continue to support it, and have offered us a few alternatives. So far, none of the options they have given us would work at all for Exam Cram, and it doesn’t look like any of the options will work even for our normal schedule, since the Mary Idema Pew Library is open past midnight every day. Currently they are working on adapting their new hours tool to work with our past-midnight schedule, and I’m working on a new tool that might be a better fit. Once I know what will happen with the hours module, I’ll update you here, and the code will be available on Github.
I’m still waiting on Institutional Marketing on a few things, but I’m pretty confident that I can set the following dates for when each system will migrate to the new version:
It’s possible that if everything goes smoothly on Monday, that I might move systems over earlier. But I definitely want to get LibGuides moved over right away so that liaisons can get any screen shots they might need to update for their instruction plans updated.
Basically the only system we aren’t touching is Summon, so it’s been a busy summer! Look for more updates next week, and as always, let me know if you have any questions or concerns.