Well, our new library website has gone for QA this week.  It’s been a long journey but we’re not far off from completing the site.  There are still a few checks and tweaks to complete, and further testing and no doubt further changes.  But, we’re now at a stage where the site looks like a completed website, with all the design, content, structure, features and links in place.

The site is a mix with the static content contained within drupal and with dynamic content using ajax/php being used to display library resources, by subject and by content type.  The dynamic content is drawn from a back-end database that takes data from the library management system and other systems.  This will hopefully make it easier to keep the content of these resource pages up to date.

Some of the terminology we’re using in the site has changed from the current site, so we are using Library Resources instead of Collections, after running a quick SurveyMonkey questionnaire to get user feedback.  Library Resources is consistent with the term used in our Virtual Learning Environment Moodle so it should make it clearer to users what to expect in this section.

As well as building in dynamic lists of news and training sessions into the home page of the site we have included quite a few changes in the help on the website.  The main change is the introduction of a ‘context-specific’ help feature.  We’ve been thinking about this ‘help channel’ feature for quite a long time.  The feature uses a Drupal module called ‘Similar by Terms’ that lets us dynamically push into a box on a page a list of links to pages in the site that are using the same metHow do I screenshotadata tags and are from the help and support section.   This box, labelled ‘How Do I…’ means that on a library resources page about ejournals we can show links to FAQs and other help material about accessing journals. 

In the help and support section itself we’ve also been able to interfile FAQs (which are taken from our CRM system) in with our other help content, to avoid users having to search through several lists of different types of help to find what they need.

With search after a lot of work to ask users what they want and investigate what works we’ve gone away from the multiple tab approach on the home page that we’ve used with mix results for the last few years.  We had mounting evidence that users really didn’t understand the differences between the different tabs.   So we are providing a single Find articles search box to One Stop Search (Ebsco Discovery Solution).   We are also providing links to journals, ebooks and subject search pages that provide search boxes (to SFX for journal titles and to Voyager for ebooks) or a subject search feature and some explanatory text.    

We’ve still got more testing to do but initial reactions from library staff to the design are good.  We’ve got a few bits to finish off to make sure that the changeover from the old to the new site goes smoothly and to get the final signoffs from QA and elsewhere, but we are nearly there, thanks to all the hard work of everyone involved.