Under the Hood, a Technical Look at Alden’s New Website

photo by, Patrick Traylor

As you have noticed our website has undergone some very serious changes when it comes to the appearance, navigation, and organization. However, these changes are not just skin deep. Even though putting a fresh face on our website, and tying it more closely to the visual theme of Ohio University was part of our decision to undertake this process, it was only the smallest part in an attempt to provide a better overall experience for our users. Our new website is based on the WordPress publishing software. This software is open source and community driven and provides a much greater degree of customization and interactivity than our old site. Many of our old blogs were also based on WordPress so it made sense for us to consolidate these stand-alone web sites and blogs into one framework and one unified web experience.

 

Content Management

The greatest strength of our new site is the ability to put the power of web page creation into the hands of our staff. Library staff can now instantly create and edit pages relating to their department. This means we can provide more up-to-date information to our users and our librarians are in direct control of that information. This same principal applies to all areas of our website including news posts, help videos, frequently asked questions and staff directory information. 

 

Search

Along with all the new content we hope to provide, we have worked very hard to improve the search feature of our website. This search is separate from searching for books, articles, or other materials and is only aimed at finding information on our web pages. This search box is located in the upper right corner of our site. Our hope is that this will make it easier to find information on topics like reserving rooms, regional library locations, subject librarians, or anything else about the library itself. For more information on how we are improving searching for actual materials, please see the post on ArticlesPlus or try it yourself from the homepage!

 

Integration

Our biggest goal with the our new website was to integrate all of our information that was scattered among many different systems into one unified experience. This includes our staff directory, our knowledge base and FAQs, How-To Videos, news blogs, research tools, hours of operation and much more. Believe it or not these all used to be independent systems or pieces of software. Now they are all managed and maintained within one all-inclusive system. 

 

Iteration

Our new website also allows us to act much quicker to user feedback. We have already implemented many changes and suggestions that have come to us, and our ability to do so quickly is based on this new technology. We understand that there are still some rough edges and issues with the new website. Our hope is that given this new framework we will be able to respond and react much faster than ever before and that we will be able to continually iterate and evolve our site into something everyone can find useful.

 

Interaction

Looking towards the future, we hope that we will be able to open up our site to greater user interaction. This means comments on news posts, home page customization, and integration with other library accounts and services. Our eventual hope is to provide users with a single place to manage their account, visual preferences, see their library record, and access electronic resources all through a single login.

 

We hope you are enjoying our new web site. We realize that for many long-time users these changes can be disruptive to research and work flows that have been used for quite some time. We thank you for understanding that sometimes change is necessary. Please continue to bear with us and do not hesitate to tell us what you like and most importantly what you do not.