Matthew Reidsma

Work Notes

Updates from the GVSU Libraries’ Web Team.
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Major Website Updates: CMS4 Migration and more

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:

  • Built-in responsive design, so it works great on any device
  • Super simple drag-and-drop editor, so no need to write HTML for creating the grid-based layouts we use here at the library
  • Allows others to maintain and update web pages when it makes sense (e.g. Kristin can update Exam Cram directly, admin staff can update the Jobs page, etc.)
  • Integrated “report a problem” feature, that allows users to report problematic or out-of-date content on any page.

But the new CMS has a few changes, as well, including:

  • Horizontal navigation, and a limit to the number of items that can be in the drop-down menus (which is a boon for usability). This means that instead of drop-down menus, our navigation links will take users to landing pages with links to search tools, services, etc. (I may be updating these over the semester as we test and iterate - they are pretty bare-bones now.)
  • Restrictions on how to incorporate “secondary” navigation, as seen on the Instruction and Scholarly Communications websites. As a result, these two websites will lose the library template. (You can preview Scholarly Communications and Instruction now, if you like.)
  • Web Team modules that work only at particular widths, based on the responsive template for the CMS. As such, I’ll have to restrict the width of the website to the maximum allowed by the CMS (about 1000 pixels wide). That should be okay, since we no longer have part of the content area taken up by the vertical navigation.

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.

  • Very few people visit the Knowledge Market page from the link on the homepage. People are visiting the page, but not through the homepage. The Knowledge Market mostly gets folks coming from Google who search for “GVSU Knowledge Market” or who come from the Services landing page. As a result, I’ll be removing the homepage link for the Knowledge Market and replacing it with one for Group Study Rooms, a link that our users have complained loudly about not being able to find. The whole column that was previously ‘Services’ will be relabeled “My Account,” since all of the links in there share the fact that users have a personal account for each: Document Delivery, Course Reserve, the Catalog, and Study Rooms.
  • Usage of the “Find Articles” page has dropped significantly over the past few years, while the “Find Journals” page use has exploded. You can still get to Find Articles through the Find Materials landing page, but I’ll replace it’s home page slot with the “Find Journals” page in the new site.
  • Right now the two “ad” slots are being created manually, while Institutional Marketing works on customizing a module for us. Until we get the new module up and going, we will be limited to running 2 ads at a time. (Usually we can run more but the page will randomly show 2 on each visit.)
  • We’ll finally comply with our obligation as a Federal Depository Library by having the FDLP logo on the website. The logo also links to the Gov Docs site!
  • I’m hoping to add some new types of materials to the find materials page, including “Data” (when the data discovery group has a resource for that), audio, and video. We’re getting more and more requests for finding this material, so I think it makes sense to make it easier. I’d love to know what you think the best search tool is for finding audio and video (and we can always test it with my silly OPAC vs. Summon tool!)

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.

New CMS4 website

You can preview the (work in progress) CMS4 website at

Vendor Systems

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.

New Illiad template

You can preview the new Illiad at (I will update the code on Github when the changes go live.)


Ares hasn’t changed much from the previous version, although the navigation bar was rewritten and improved.

New Ares template

You can preview the new Ares at . (I will update the code on Github when the changes go live.)


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.

New EZProxy template

There isn’t a way to preview this unless we ban your IP address. :)

The Catalog

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:

  • Better labeling for the ASRS items. Users don’t know what “ASRS” means
  • Request buttons right on the search results page
  • New “browse” popular reading links, both for the while collection and by location.

I’ll post updates next week when I have some progress to show on the OPAC.

New Vendor Tools

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.

Journals A-Z

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.

Library Status Page

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 (the Knowledge Base)

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!

Help System

You can see the Knowledge Base at It is a new top-level link in the website’s navigation.

LibChat Revisited

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:

  1. It checks to see if chat is online. If it is, it changes the button from “Search the Knowledge Base” to “Ask a Question.”
  2. As the user starts typing their question, it offers suggestions from the knowledge base that might be relevant to what they are typing.
  3. The user can then click on the knowledge base article or skip the suggestions and either search the knowledge base or start a new chat.

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!

New chat system

You can preview the new chat widget at (The code is already available on Github.)

Hours Module

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.

Time Frames

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:

  • Monday, August 24: Library website, Instruction website, Scholarly Communications website, LibGuides, LibAnswers, LibChat
  • Tuesday, August 25: OPAC, EZProxy, 360Link
  • Wednesday, August 26: Illiad, Ares

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.