Posts Tagged 'SUL Website Project'

Awesome Library Website, Part 5: Continued improvement

Launching our awesome new library website 3 months ago was a huge milestone, which I have bragged about extensively.  But that certainly was not the end of the redesign project. I think it is safe to say that a decent website is never really “done”; and an awesome site like ours remains awesome through constant attention, improvement, and evolution.

In September, we* responded to early feedback about the need to increase the visibility of key content by highlighting ejournals and by using Top Hits and keywords to boost selected key content in the search results. We also improved the content creation process for library staff, and responded to over 200 feedback emails from patrons and staff. Consistent with our committment to transparency in every aspect of this project, we published a detailed list of our September accomplishments on our blog.

Screen shot of Integrated chat icons for reference and subject librarians

Integrated chat icons for reference and subject librarians

In October, we integrated the LibraryH3lp chat tool throughout the site, added an Events stream, created a staff directory page based on an automated feed from the Stanford directory, continued to improve the content creation experience, and formed a Web Steering Committee. Whew — busy month! Again, all of this is detailed on our blog.

Our branch libraries continue to work on moving their individual branch site content into the new environment (kudos to our Music Library for being the first branch to complete the transition) and subject specialists continue to create Topic and Course guides. In the coming months, our plans include enhancing our collections, research services, department, and news pages; continuing to migrate legacy content; and exploring mobile options.

* Note that by “we”, I mean the Rock Star team that has made all of this awesomeness happen; with special props to Stu Snydman, Jennifer Vine, Sarah Lester, Ray Heigemeir, Jon Lavigne, and the team at Chapter 3.

Awesome Library Website, Part 4: Reviews are in!

If you are tired of hearing me brag about our Awesome Library Website, here is a sampling of what others are saying:

Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC does a fantastic job of describing 2 main goals of our site:

  1. Highlighting Library space as a service
  2. Providing “full library discovery

Thanks for the excellent and insightful review, Lorcan!

We have also been getting plenty of feedback via our Feedback link/email:

  • Kudos to the team. This is an enormous project and your dedication and diligence has produced a vastly superior site that all of us can be proud of and on which our patrons can find what they need.
  • New site looks great!
  • Subject: The new website… Tell us: …is great!
  • I think my first favorite feature of the new site is the single search box, and its common-sense display of results from a variety of sources.  Because I’m vain, I just searched some words from the title of my one-and-only academic publication, and loved seeing SearchWorks results alongside site-search results (from my Person page).  I can imagine an actual patron doing this with an actual search, and stumbling upon an actual subject specialist with common research interests.  Very cool!
  • I like it, although I haven’t put it to too much use yet. I look forward to becoming more familiar with its features.
  • i love your site
  • I actually love a lot about your site – kudos!

From Twitter:

  • @calfano27: Congrats to all who put together the awesome new Stanford libraries website :) Super shiny
  • @pantheon_drupal: That’s one fine lookin’ library site! Congratz to @chapter_three and SULAIR on an amazing launch – http://t.co/z0cwHMze
  • @miriamkp: Nice. Nothing extraneous. RT @StanfordLibs: Our new website is live today — check it out and send your feedback: http://t.co/3pGP2Uv8
  • @erikoomen: checking the new Stanford Universitiy Library website http://t.co/7EtqSk92 #nicework #goodpractice
  • @ccthompson: I love the Stanford University website. happily taking notes on the user interface! ‪http://library.stanford.edu
  • Plus loads of tweets and Re-Tweets linking to the new homepage and/or to specific pages within the new site, including tweets in Japanese, French, and Spanish.

From Facebook:

Here’s one of my favorite new links from the new website: Places to study – http://library.stanford.edu/using/study Brilliant idea to include this!

Awesome Library Website, Pt. 3: Lift-off!

rocket launch

Photo by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.

Today we officially launched our new library website. The approximately 10,000 visitors to our old site are now being automatically redirected to our new site.
I fully expect that most of them will be thrilled with the updated look, clear navigation, improved searching, and richer content. I also expect that we will get a few emails from regular users who can’t find something in it’s new spot, but we should be able to handle those fairly quickly.

I have already bragged about how awesome our new site is in general, and specifically about our cool central ribbon feature.

There is so much more to brag about, I hardly know where to start — but let’s go with 2 pieces of functionality and content that grew directly out of our user feedback: hours and places to study. All of our interviews with patrons, our usability tests, and our guerilla testing indicated that patrons consistently ranked finding out when libraries are open, and where they could study (with a group, in a quiet area, with computers, near coffee, etc.) as top reasons they go to a library website.

Visitors to our new site can see today’s hours for all libraries on the homepage, this week’s hours for all libraries on the hours page, and can click on Show full calendar on any specific library page (for example, see our Biology Library page) to see hours for that library for the month.

Our Places to Study list includes awesome photos of study spaces across the libraries, and allows students to filter the list by commonly requested attributes (e.g. absolute quiet, coffee nearby, open late).

I can’t wait to start getting feedback and use statistics on the whole site, but especially these 2 features. I guess the only drawback might be that some of our previously “secret” study rooms could start to get pretty crowded.

Awesome new library website, Part 2: The multiple stakeholders challenge

One of the biggest challenges of a library website project (maybe any website project) seems to be figuring out what gets top billing. Top billing in this sense usually means front page.
Our library website has many different types of users and a seemingly endless number of stakeholders. One of the best and most common ways to account for multiple users/stakeholders is to develop personas, which we did early on in the project.

Developing the right personas is only half the battle, though. The real challenge is figuring out how to balance their sometimes conflicting needs. There is simply not enough room on a website (at least not on a well-designed one) to put all your users’ main needs on the front page.

Stanford University Libraries website

Screen shot of ribbon, with Collections panel highlighted

One really clever and elegant way our awesome design team came up with to meet this challenge is the central ribbon on our new site. Clicking on any of the central ribbon items does not take you away from the homepage – it simply changes the content on the bottom half of the homepage. It basically allows us to have multiple views of our homepage — 5 different views without scrolling, but we can add as many panels as we want after the scroll. I love it.

Of course, the real test will come once we go live and start to get actual user behavior and feedback, but I’m feeling very confident that our folks came up with a really smart solution to an often vexing web design challenge.

Our awesome new library website, Part 1

Screen shot of new site: August 21, 2012

There is so much awesome in our new library website, that I know it will take more than one blog post to talk about them all; so consider this installment 1.

We will be officially launching our new site next week, although it has been live as a “preview” for many months now. The official launch basically consists of redirecting almost all traffic from our old/current site to our new site (see the difference in awesomeness?).

First, all credit goes to the rock stars who made this all happen:

Libraries redesign websites all the time, so what’s so special about ours? Here is a quick run-down of awesome — off the top of my head and in no particular order:

  • Integrated search results from SearchWorks (our catalog), selected databases, and the website.  Some of my current favorite examples are: Herbert Matter, Feminist Studies, and Lost Books.
  • It has been based on massive amounts of user testing and feedback from the very beginning, and throughout the redesign process
  • We started out with some pretty straight-forward goals, and referred back to them throughout the project.
  • Although it is a top-down redesign, focused first on the homepage and lots of top-level content, we will eventually have over 100 staff members creating content and pages on the site. The end result is a delicate balance between standardized design and distributed authorship.
  • We tried from the start to place as much (or more) emphasis on content as we did on the technology. To that end, we are developing an extensive Content Creation Guide, covering topics such as writing for the web, providing image attribution information, capitalization of library names, and how to fill out your People Page.
  • Much of our progress and guidelines for web authors has been posted publicly on our Library Website Redesign Blog. We also have developed an internal Training for the Library Website site within CourseWork (Stanford’s course management system).

Bottom line, when asked to describe what is newsworthy about our site redesign, my off-the-cuff response was “Teaching, learning and research at Stanford will be easier now because our website rocks.”

Stay tuned for future posts about specific features of the site, including our Places to Study database, People Pages, Guides, Collections, and more.



%d bloggers like this: