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Discovery & User Experience

Real Questions from Real People: part 5

question markContinuing in our series of questions our librarians and staff have asked about the upcoming website migration! This was a particularly good question, and one that has a lot of different possible answers – so we thought we’d each take a stab at answering it from our varied perspectives.


Q: What do you see as the greatest benefit resulting from the switch?

Courtney: I suspect there may be many among us who, while we celebrate the achievement that is Content Manager, also look forward to the time when we can view it in retrospect as “our previous system.” More seriously, I think the move to Drupal will put us in a position to be better able to be nimble in responding to user needs and in implementing ongoing improvements in functionality as a matter of course. Drupal has a large development community which includes a number of libraries so I believe we will reap benefits from being part of that larger effort. Not to put too fine a point on it: won’t it be fantastic to be able to say, ‘Hey we’d like to do X. Great, someone has a module for that already. Let’s implement it’ or ‘Hey we’re interested in Y. Looks like those libraries are too. Let’s talk with them and get something shared going we can all use.’ I think so.

It will also be great to have a site that is better integrated in terms of how it presents our services, collections and resources. I believe our users see us as a single entity – the IU Libraries – and it is my hope the new site will be a more unified Web presence that mirrors that understanding of us, rather than the tendency of the current site to reflect our administrative organization in a way I’m not sure always best serves our users.

Mary:  I think that one of the most important tasks accomplished by the new library web site will be its ability to broaden the definition of “resources” to go beyond electronic databases, books and journals to encompass the subject librarian’s expertise, important free resources on the Internet, images and other non-print materials, and current news in the field.  This broader approach will help users identify the resources to use to complete their research or answer their questions.  I think that the ability to provide one area for all of the information that applies to a discipline or subject is going to be the most profound change that we make.  It builds on work started in the development of the current web site, but takes users beyond just purchased online materials by highlighting the subject librarian and his or her expertise.

Anne: As the go-to person for “help how do I fix this page” problems, I have to say that making it easier for us to create and update content on our site is a huge benefit! I think this will lead to a better-structured, better-organized site that is more up-to-date, more usable, and more useful. My recent blog post about working with page owners covers some of this (see my first and third bullet points in particular), and Courtney makes some related points in her section of this post you’re reading right now.

We will also be in a better position to make good use of images on the new site, as the design is much more image-heavy (perhaps “image-conscious” is a better term) and the way Drupal handles and organizes images on the admin side will be an improvement too. Today’s Web users expect – and find it easier to process – a multimedia experience rather than just screens full of text, and between the new design and Drupal’s image management capabilities, we’ll be able to satisfy these expectations a little better.

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