Over the next few months we are planning to redevelop our library website.  It’s a long process, there are a lot of different stakeholders and a lot of stages to go through.  I’m going to try to blog about the process as we go along to try to keep a record of what we do, how it goes and what lessons we discover as we go through the whole website migration project.

I ‘m going to start with covering why do we want to change the website.  What is driving the change?

  • Feedback from users – comments from surveys and questionnaires indicate that users don’t find the navigation easy, don’t like the design that much and don’t find it that easy to find relevant help information.  They particularly have difficulty with finding access to electronic resources.
  • Feedback from staff that they would like different things to be on the homepage to what students want, e.g. services such as book renewals and document delivery, which in our institution is mostly of interest to staff
  • We have an increasing range of different types of users (students, academics and researchers for example) and partners who all have a slightly different need from the website.  The current website offers a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach and doesn’t allow users to have a view of it that meets their specific needs or to allow them to customise or personalise it.
  • ‘To be where our users are’ – increasingly we are wanting users to access our services directly from where they are (in the VLE, or in Google Apps) rather than by having to come to our website.  So we want to facilitate that.
  • We want to make more use of dynamic content, which we do to a certain extent already by taking lists of resources from the catalogue and presenting in the website.
  • The Information Architecture of the site was designed in 2008 and we want to review it to reflect changes in the way our services have developed.
  • We want to update the design of the website to give it a more consistent University style
  • The underlying website technology ‘Cold Fusion’ is no longer a preferred website technology for us and we want to develop the site using technology that is more Web 2.0 friendly.
  • Library staff working with other University units has thrown up some different ideas about how we might present help and support on the website.  This has lead us to thinking about trying to deliver it in a different way – in context, so users get relevant help and support materials prevented in context, rather than being sent to a help page and being expected to search through lists of pages, videos and podcasts.

Key objectives
So our key objectives for the website migration are:

  • improved user experience
  • easier to navigate
  • improved search – [being addressed partially by introducing a new third-party search system from Ebsco]
  • personalised – so students get things that are relevant to them, academics get services relevant to them etc
  • context-specific help and support – placed wherever you are on the website
  • easy to access information about how to contact us to get help
  • a cleaner, fresher design
  • in a more Web 2.0 friendly development environment that lets us develop new services to keep pace with user needs
  • ideally that we can develop services once that can then be deployed to wherever our users are – a type of ‘build once, use many times’ approach

Next time I want to start to look at the approach we are taking and the steps we are planning.