Monday, April 12, 2010

Website Redesign: 2 Case Studies

My raw notes from the CIL2010 session on:

Website Redesign: 2 Case Studies

Sarah Houghton-Jan
San Jose Public Library

known problems
- joint website for 2 libraries - 2 missions - the public library & the academic
- public library users felt ripped off, ignored
- 7 year old design, content, and CMS
- webmaster as gatekeeper = disconnected staff
- ADA requirements cumbersome in existing environment

problems discovered DURING process
- unrealistic expectations from administrators
- 1 year long RFP & contract process
- incompetent graphic designers
- 6 months of lost time due to lost momentum
- merged web team working on 3 sites - univ., public, and shared sites
- incompetent graphic designers

- stakeholders must identify org's goals
- techies, designers, & information architects identify how to meet the goals
- identify your givens (what do you already know about your users - from known / experience, surveys, analytics)
- use planning software (baseCamp, dotproject = open source)
- double the estimated timeline

- initial satisfaction surveys for both
- card sorting testing for customers early on (users showed that the website shouldn't be merged through card sorting)
- staff focus groups
- mock-up task testing for customers (walk-thru tests)
- transparency to staff and customers

- identify who you are serving
- focus on the few things you do well (user test MOST COMMONLY NEEDED tasks - most commonly needed by public, not staff)
- tell stories of what your users want (what do people come to us for?)
- look for friction points (where do people get mad at you? look for complaints... best people to do testing with...)
- who is the site for again? (e.g., is kids' site for children or their parents)

- start simple
- Basic tools: JAWS, WAVE, browser emulators, OS emulators
- Firefox tools: Firesizer, Firefox Accessibility Extension, HTML Validator, Web Developer Extension, WCAG Contrast Checker

- blogs for staff & customers with email & RSS updates
- ask for customer & staff input (AND USE IT!)
- recruit usability testing participants from among "the angry folk"

- set deadlines for everything
- hold people accountable
- one person should be in charge of tracking
- give periodic updates to staff/managers
- spend the most time on IA and DESIGN (often get stuck on things like choosing CMS instead) (by design, she seems to be referring to the visual - graphic design along with navigation design)
- keep things moving no matter what (LOST MOMENTUM DAMAGES PROJECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PROJECT FATIGUE!!!)
- celebrate small victories

- phased-in launch (notices, pre-testing)
- beta & feedback
- = 1.0 + feedback
- = 1.1 _+ feedback (and so on)
- provide brief online & printable orientation
-- if it takes >1 page, start over, your website is too complicated

- don't try to be fancy when your brain says "no"
- allow consultants to push you around
- have more than 1 project mgr
- stifle creativity
- don't re-invent the wheel

- show your ego to the door
- take risks
- document everything
- research everything
- talk to users continuously


Georgetown library website redesign
Kristina Bobe, Steve Fernie, Shian-Chih Change, William Wheeler

Concepts that informed redesign:
  • user-centered design - speaking the user's language
  • how can we incorporate new technologies into the website?
  • connecting the dots - resources & users connected
  • help users help themselves (e.g., what hours are you open?)
a few key components (not whole process)
5 topics covered today:
  1. master task list (know your users... what are their tasks? What are they searching? included catalog search stats, chat reference transcripts, analytics for site, reference desk questions)
    - printed list, used scissors & tape - literally cut up list & taped to wall
    - what could people not do on current site? what was working on the current site? what could be improved on?
    - had staff look at it & see if anything was missing from master task list
  2. usability
    - competitive analysis of other ARL websites
    - usability testing (I kind of blanked a bit here, since it sounded very familiar from my recent course & was checking in on emails. sorry!)
  3. content management
    - switched to Drupal (used to use Dreamweaver. originally looked at Contribute. Instead, decided on full CMS.) Very flexible open-source content management system. No one on staff had previous experience with Drupal, so found it difficult. (Using 30 contrib modules at Gtown.) Has been well-worth investment in time to learn.
  4. subject guides
    - LibData - open source authoring platform for subject guides, course guides, and general resource guides - developed by the digital library, U of Minnesota in 2003, development (dev'd in apache, mysql & PHP)
    - currently being ported to Drupal by Minnesota
    - needed to get subject guide imported from old Cold Fusion / (? database) setup
  5. communication (backstage redesign - using the wiki to keep staff informed - replacing 3 other 'intranets')
    - was a stable place, & creative addition, but organization remained a challenge - not common terminology - enabled small group work, but limited cross-group collaboration
    - adopting challenges - reminding everyone to go to the wiki
    - tool fatigue
  6. lessons learned
    - decide, then go on, don't worry if something better comes up
    - foundational importance of task analysis (not guesswork when looking at users; refining beyond anecdotes; more, better data)
    - wiki enabled better collaboration, not a panacea - still failures to communicate - still need to talk to people
    - LibData important step forward, but lack of flexibility (consistency too much for all subjects)
    - Drupal key decision (8 months out, still figuring it all out) - but a complex change

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