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Web Site: Interface Design Web Content Management. Nanjing University June/July Holly Yu California State University, Los Angeles. Topics Covered . To gain a basic understanding of a user centered web design Needs for a user friendly Web design

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Web site interface design web content management l.jpg

Web Site: Interface Design Web Content Management

Nanjing University


Holly YuCalifornia State University, Los Angeles

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Topics Covered

  • To gain a basic understanding of a user centered web design

    • Needs for a user friendly Web design

    • CSULA University Library Web redesign project

    • Web content management

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Material Used

  • Detlor, Brian; Lewis, Vivian. 2006. Academic Library Web Sites: Current Practice and Future Directions. Journal of Academic Librarianship, vol. 32, No. 3, P. 251-258.

  • Yu, Holly, 2005. Methods and Tools for Managing Library Web Content. Content and Workflow Management for Library Web Sites: Case Studies, edited by Holly Yu. Information Science Publishing.

  • Regatli, Johan, 2005. Methods and Tools for Managing Library Web Content. Content and Workflow Management for Library Web Sites: Case Studies, edited by Holly Yu. Information Science Publishing.

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Needs for a User Friendly Web Interface

  • Historically, college and university libraries are the natural destination for students, faculty, staff, and researchers seeking information.

  • Academic libraries serve as the repository for published information as well as the intermediary for acquiring material from the outside world.

  • Libraries face stiff competition from search engines like Google and Ask. These for-profit players have invested significantly in their front-end screens and marketing strategies, and can serve up quick bites of information the way users want—fast and easy.

    • Google's recent forays into scholarly content and mass digitization have blurred the already murky distinctions between libraries and commercial services even further—sending ripples of panic throughout the profession.

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Solutions—Robust Library Web Sites

  • How should academic libraries respond? We suggest with robust library Web sites.

    • These user-centered Web-based interfaces can:

      • provide patrons with access to online catalogs, subscribed resources, and other electronic content;

      • potentially create virtual environments which enable patrons to personalize the selection and presentation of these collections;

      • channel the delivery of value-added services

      • engage in two-way communication with library staff and, in some cases, to even collaborate with other library users.

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Current Trends in Web Site Redesign

  • Robust library Web sites can function as portals or gateways to an integrated and varied collection of information resources and as sophisticated guidance systems which support users across a wide spectrum of information seeking behaviors.

  • Robust library Web sites can include

    • broadcast search tools

    • electronic reference services (e.g., Ask A Librarian)

    • personalization features (e.g., customized home pages, virtual bookshelves)

    • enriched content (e.g., author biographies, book reviews, tables of content, book covers)

    • virtual communities support

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Current Trends in Web Site Redesign

  • Package Information Content and Services in Ways that Meet User Needs

  • Make Information Seeking the Central Focus of Library Web Site Interface Design

  • Invest More Resources into Interface Design

  • Support Information Use, Not Just Information Access

  • Increased Emphasis on Users and Services

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Package Information Content and Services

  • Librarians are encouraged to scrutinize and test their understanding of what students (learners), teachers, and researchers actually do with library resources and then to build the Web site around those central tasks—rather than trying to base design on current administrative structures, resource formats, and fancy interfaces.

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Make Information Seeking the Central Focus

  • Library Web sites should focus attention on information seeking activities rather than administrative information about the library itself.

  • Search functions should be positioned where users will find them.

  • Consider prominent placement on the home page, possibly up top or in open white space.

  • Work towards bringing all search facilities, including non-library managed search facilities like Google Scholar, into one integrated search tool.

  • As a first measure, ensure that users can perform both a direct catalog search and a search of the library Web site from the home page.

  • To reduce clutter, consider using a drop down menu to allow users to select their search source file or use radio buttons for selection.

  • Use meaningful search descriptors so users know what source files (the catalog, the Web pages, etc.) are being searched.

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University Library Web Redesign Project

We began our site redesign project by:

  • Setting goals and priorities for the project

  • Conducting usability studies

    Initial goals included:

  • Streamlining content, structure, and layout

  • Giving the site a new look and feel ― making the site more intuitive, aesthetically appealing, in-tune with the University’s new web site design

  • Utilizing new techniques and technology for displaying content (cascading menu and database-driven pages) to improve accuracy/currency and simplify maintenance

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Why Redesign?

Difficult to navigate

  • Developed over many years

  • No navigational structure ~ developed ad hoc

    Hundreds of pages

  • Difficult to update

  • Redundant

  • Too many links

  • Too wordy

  • Inconsistent style

    Improve ADA compliance

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Problem Statements

Library Web

  • Does the Web site structure, content, and vocabulary used within the existing Library Web make it easy for users to locate information resources and library services?

    Article Databases

  • Does the layout and structure of the existing online database pages make it easy to choose and use appropriate resources?

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Addressing User Needs

  • Can users find appropriate paths to their information using the links on the Library Web site?

  • Do users understand the terminology used on the Library Web site?

  • Does our perception of what is useful to students match the actual use pattern of our users?

  • Do users find the Library Web site a professional design?

  • Do users find the Library Web site an aesthetically pleasing?

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Addressing Developer Concerns

  • What technologies can be used to make the Library Web site easier to maintain?

  • How can we streamline the Library Web development and maintenance workflow?

  • How can we consolidate structure redundancy in the Library Web?

  • How can we ensure that pages throughout the Library Web have a consistent look and feel?

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Why Usability Studies?

Focus on user needs

  • Ask the user if the Web site is easy to use

  • Follow usage patterns rather than make assumptions

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Usability Study Methods

Pre-Test Surveys

  • Paper and web-based versions to enlist volunteers

  • Key issue―matching test users to campus demographics

    Formal Usability Testing

  • Users given common tasks

  • Observe users’ behavior (users speak aloud)

  • Open-ended debriefing questions at end of session

  • Four to six users enough to find major flaws

  • Tested both the old Web site and the new design

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Recruiting Test Users(Initial Test of Old Site)

  • 200+ volunteers…still had difficulty filling slots

  • Planned to use four groups of five

    • Lower division, upper division, graduate, faculty/staff/other

  • Met demographic goals for college and gender

  • Did not meet demographic goals

    • Status, age, ethnicity, non-native English speakers

  • Offered inducements – copy cards and food

    • Grant funded

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Testing Checklist

  • Purpose statements

  • Problem statements/questions

  • Human subject requirements?

  • Draft standard documentation – forms and scripts

  • Recruit users

  • Train observers / pre-test questions

  • Schedule sessions

  • Administer tests

  • Analyze data

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Key Findings(Initial Test of Old Site)

  • Native vs. non-native English speakers

    • Non-native speakers had difficulty with 47.2% of answers

    • Native speakers had difficulty with 30.3% of answers

  • Experienced Internet users less critical of the site

  • Users ignored graphics and scanned text

  • No one used help screens

    • Faculty and staff were only group to claim to use them

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More Key Findings(Initial Test of Old Site)

Questions missed by at least half of users

  • What is the title of any newspaper article about Jack Lemmon?

  • Where can you find the magazine Sports Illustrated?

  • Where can you find information online showing how to do your research paper’s reference list in MLA format?

  • List three databases for finding journal articles in accounting.

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Issues Identified by Usability Studies

  • Confusing language / terminology

  • Too busy / text heavy / link heavy

  • Lack of consistent look and feel on all pages

  • “What’s New” graphics viewed as ads and ignored

  • Needs a search feature

  • Database page layout was hard to use and time-consuming to update

  • Improve overall navigational structure

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Cal State LA Students with Disabilities

Fall Quarter 2001 Enrollment

Total number: 461

  • Communication 11 2.3%

  • Deaf 4 0.87%

  • Learning 186 40.35%

  • Mobility 163 35.36%

  • Visually Impaired/Blind 26 4.33%

    ―Data from the Campus Office for Students with Disabilities

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Our Approach

  • Evaluated the Library Web for ADA Compliance

    • Bobby

    • JAWS

  • Encouraged by University and Library Administration

  • Asked Users to Help with Testing

    • Relied on Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) staff for their expertise regarding the needs and abilities of our students

    • Invited visually impaired or blind users who rely on screen readers to test our site

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    Examples of Errors Identified


    • CSULA (sounds like Roman dictator Sula)


    • ILL (sounds like ill)

      Labels needed in forms

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    What We Learned

    • Include accessibility assessment in the planning and design process

    • Develop ADA compliance checklists or follow latest guidelines

    • Build strong partnerships with the disabled community

      • Rely on OSD expertise regarding students needs and abilities

      • Invite visually impaired users to test site

    • Utilize available accessibility tools

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    Usage Statistics

    Number of page "hits"

    Types of pages requested

    Top pages / top documents accessed

    Length of time users stayed on site or individual pages(stickiness)

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    Streamlining Content, Structure, and Layout

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    Why a New Structure?

    Address problems identified in usability study

    • Number of links

    • Use of “confusing” words

      Reduce redundant redundancy in content

      Prioritize information

      Provide multiple paths when appropriate

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    Issues Identified by Usability Studies

    • Confusing language / terminology

    • Too busy / text heavy / link heavy

    • Lack of consistent look and feel on all pages

    • “What’s New” graphics viewed as ads and ignored

    • Needs a search feature

    • Database page layout was hard to use and time-consuming to update

    • Improve overall navigational structure

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    Streamlining Content

    Category chart

    Card sorting

    Database driven approach

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    Old Library Web (Homepage)

    Library Catalogs


    InformationLibrary hours                  Floor plans General overview Our personnel Liaison librarians Loan periods Library jobs More information available

    FormsInterlibrary loan Renew books Request a book Feedback Ask a librarian Instruction request

    Research ToolsGovernment info Local Library catalogs Other CSLA resources Internet Search engines Recommended Web sites Internet student help Style & writing Web sites Pharos-CSU resources Recommended reading

    HelpGuides / Handouts Tutorials Tours Database workshops Thesis workshops Library Instruction Information competence

    What's New

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    Old Library Web Homepage

    Looks like ads

    Too many links

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    • Re-categorize content / links on homepage and reduce the number of links

    • Integrate a searching capability by implementing a search engine, and FAQs

    • Provide a consistent navigational structure

    • Use database-driven pages to manage 140+ online resources

    • Implement style sheets and templates for easy maintenance and updating

    • Reduce content redundancy

    • Remove library jargon, and simplify terminology

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    Issues Identified by Usability Studies

    • Confusing language / terminology

    • Too busy / text heavy / link heavy

    • Lack of consistent look and feel on all pages

    • “What’s New” graphics viewed as ads and ignored

    • Needs a search feature

    • Database page layout was hard to use and time-consuming to update

    • Improve overall navigational structure

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    Redesign Process

    Examined commercial & library web sites for design concepts, color schemes, navigational approaches, etc.

    Exchanged URLs and ideas ― lots of “virtual” brainstorming!

    Design sub-group created numerous mock-ups

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    And still more mockups…

    Somewhere around 80 in all…

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    Other Influences at Work

    Campus home page design and departmental design standards were about to change…

    Wanted basic look and feel of the Library home page to reflect new campus header and color scheme

    Encouraged to adopt a cascading menu (similar to new campus page) and include a multi-source search box

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    Current CSULA homepage

    New CSULA homepage

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    Issues Identified by Usability Studies

    • Confusing language / terminology

    • Too busy / text heavy / link heavy

    • Lack of consistent look and feel on all pages

    • “What’s New” graphics viewed as ads and ignored

    • Needs a search feature

    • Database page layout was hard to use and time-consuming to update

    • Improve overall navigational structure

    • Category “headers” ignored by some, others thought they should be links to secondary pages

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    Techniques We Wanted to Utilize

    Dynamically resizable headers

    Dynamic HTML

    • Creating rollover menus

      Database-driven Web pages

    • Current technologies

    • Difficulties

    • Alternate approaches

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    Resizable Headers

    • Needed page to resize to fit browser

      • Left justified non-resizable pages — ugly

    • Use resizable cells

      • Split header into 5 sections

      • 3 graphics

      • 2 resizable cells with 1 pixel wide graphic

      • graphic stretches to fill cell

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    Resizable Headers (Code)

    <tr width="100%">

    <td width="200"><a href="http://www.calstatela.edu"><img border="0" src="image/campusleft2.gif" width="200" alt="California State University, Los Angeles homepage"></a></td>

    <td width="50%" valign="bottom"><img src="image/border2.gif" alt="" width="100%" border="0"></td>

    <td width="360"><img border="0" src="image/libmid2.gif" width="360" alt="California State University, Los Angeles Library"></td>

    <td width="50%" valign="bottom"><img src="image/border2.gif" alt="" width="100%" border="0"></td>

    <td width="200"><img src="image/libright2.gif" width="200" border="0" alt="California State University, Los Angeles Library"></td>


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    Dynamic HTML

    Allows graphical effects in response to mouse / keyboard

    • rollover menus on homepage

    • mouseovers for OPAC tabs

    • dynamic examples in OPAC

      Difficult to create

    • combination of HTML and JavaScript

    • proprietary implementation in older browsers (e.g., NS4, IE4)

    • modern browsers use same code

      Developed cross-browser method

    • used techniques from various sources

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    Active Client Page ~ Database

    Simple set of JavaScript arrays

    Text file

    • edit with Notepad

    • easily updated

    • smaller size than standard database files

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    Active Client Page ~ Database Example

    WebPage[2] = "/library/hmpgs/sbreivo/index.htm";

    Name[2] = "Breivold, Scott";

    Job[2] = "Media, Communications, &amp; Arts Librarian";

    Ext[2] = "6094";

    Room[2] = "3019 North";

    Mail[2] = "sbreivo@calstatela.edu";

    Status[2] = "Faculty";

    WebPage[38] = "/library/hmpgs/ssotton.htm";

    Name[38] = "Sottong, Stephen";

    Job[38] = "Engineering, Computer Science, Technology &amp; Psychology Librarian";

    Ext[38] = "5168";

    Room[38] = "1025 A North";

    Mail[38] = "ssotton@calstatela.edu";

    Status[38] = "Faculty";

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    Active Client Page ~ HTML

    • Page includes JavaScript for formatting & sorting data

      • for (x=1;x<=indices;x++)

      • {if (Status[SortNums[x]]==srch || srch=="Personnel")

      • {document.write("<tr><td><a href=\"");

        • document.write(WebPage[SortNums[x]]);

      • document.write("\">");

      • document.write(Name[SortNums[x]]);

      • document.write("</a></td><td>");

      • document.write(Job[SortNums[x]]);

      • document.write("</td><td>");

      • document.write(Ext[SortNums[x]]);

      • document.write("</td><td>");

      • document.write(Room[SortNums[x]]);

      • document.write("</td><td>");

      • document.write("<a href=\"mailto:");

        • document.write(Mail[SortNums[x]]);

        • document.write("\">");

        • document.write(Mail[SortNums[x]]);

        • document.write("</a>");

      • document.write("</td></tr>");}}

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    Future Wish List

    • Allow Users to Customize the Library Web Site

    • Support Information Use, Not Just Information Access

    • Greater Integration with Other College and University Information Portals and Systems

      • Library resources and services are delivered as “channels” to campus portal

    • Increase emphasis on the Physical Library as a Social and Learning Space

    • Increase collaboration with Other Academic Libraries

    • offer some form of federated searching for those users who prefer it

    • Devote more resources to marketing the library Web site to campus stakeholders.

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    New Features

    • Include sophisticated and innovative features:

      • provide the ability to book group study rooms online

      • present RSS feeds for new books, videos, and DVDs

      • allow patrons to add items to their personal “e-shelf”

      • allow visitors to search a collection of expert information about the library

      • support enhanced error messages that clearly described the nature of the error.

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    Web Content Management

    • Definition

      • Content management, or CM, can be simply defined as a process of collecting, organizing, categorizing, and structuring informational resources of any type and format, therefore they can be saved, retrieved, published, updated and repurposed or reused in any ways desirable. Content management system today means a sophisticated software based system or application.

      • The entire lifecycle of the web deployment from its initial definition of content requirement, tool selection, workflow management, rollout, to ongoing update and technology refreshment or upgrade involves the content management.

      • The scope of the WCM includes combinations of WCM systems and WCM tools or applications. A fully featured web content management system includes the process from the content inception to publication, and a system that also allows the web administrators to streamline workflows and to enable all content contributors to easily edit, update and publish web content without in-depth knowledge of HTML.

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    Web Content Management Systems

    • Bioko categorizes web content management systems, or WCMS, into four levels:

      • the nominal WCMS

      • dynamic websites

      • full WCMS

      • enterprise CMS

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    Nominal WCMS

    • Nominal WCMS are those tools like

      • Microsoft’s Notepad,

      • FrontPage

      • Macromedia Dreamweaver

    • These tools provide basic web management mechanisms such as

      • page templates to all authors to create standard page layouts across a web site;

      • site outlines and link managers verify all links working properly;

      • publication manager allows web managers to upload newly created or modified pages to web servers.

    • Nonetheless, these tools are suited for creating and managing small and single web sites.

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    Dynamic Web Sites

    • Dynamic web sites, in a strict technical term, are not WCMS, rather web-based applications.

    • A dynamic web site is a system for producing web pages ‘on the fly’ as users request them. Usually, the application contains a data source stored on a web server. The date source can be built using a relational database, or XML structure, or a structure constructed by other scripting languages, such as JavaScript. The data source contains the content in response to user’s queries when a user clicks on a link. There is a template page connects the data source and the user, and there are HTML codes and programming scripts or objects in the template page that can interpret the user request, activate the data source, and send appropriate content to the user’s web browser as an HTML page.

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    Full WCMS

    • Full WCMS, as defined above, is a system that functions from content collection to publication, and manages content contributors and workflow. It contains a relational database serving as a repository of all types of contents from text, HTML files, graphics, to style sheets; a live data source generated by the WCMS for the dynamic parts of a web site; and many HTML files managed by the web CMS for the static parts of a site.

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    Enterprise CMS

    • Enterprise CMS, is the same CMS used in the enterprise-wide to produce not only the web site, but encompass the entire content creation and management for the organization.

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    The Use of WCMS

    • The WCMS can be used to collect, manage and publish contents. It provides tools or applications for quality control, create context sensitive help, personalization or portals, and dynamic delivery.

    • The process of collecting contents encompassing content creation or acquisition, editing, aggregating or segmenting, and assigning metadata.

    • The management segment of a WCMS can include management tools for content quality control, workflow control, data on the system users, and data on contributors, etc. The publishing component contains the process of appropriately arranging contents, designing navigation, applying web design standards, and ensuring useful and practical functionalities.

    • Workflow management and content quality control are two major motivations in many libraries that started utilizing web content management systems or applications. The workflow represents a set of sequential and parallel tasks from a project inception, commission, content creation, review, revision, editing, integration, publication, and updating.

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    Needs for Web Content Management

    • More library staff including non-technical people wish to participate in publishing content to the web;

    • More functionality is required to serve web users and internal web developers;

    • Standards need to be implemented for look and feel;

    • Some of the pressing needs are consistently emerging as follows:

      • The ability to repurpose or reuse content in multiple information sets, to deliver the content to both library Internet and Intranet, and for other publications

      • The ability to personalize or customize content for different user groups

      • The ability to streamline internal workflow and reduce workload resulted in tedious and repetitive works

      • The ability to achieve quality control

      • The ability to reduce cost of managing the organization web

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    Content Creation, Updating, Delivery and Reuse

    • The process of creating or updating repetitive material can be tedious, and labor intensive

    • The process requires personnel to be familiar or even proficient with HTML codes.

  • A well designed web content management system can resolve this issue by providing non-technical library staff with an online form for content input and update.

  • The content only needs to be input or updated once, and it can be propagated to as many lists as needed.

  • Within the database that the content is stored, each piece of information such as a link, a description is well-labeled with user-centered metadata.

  • Once the content in a well-organized database, it is convenient to deliver it to either a static web display or a dynamic display.

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    Look and Feel

    • Implementing a database-driven solution allows the separation of content from presentation, and provides more flexibilities for display.

    • The uniqueness of the web is to display data, and the uniqueness of the database is to store data.

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    Workflow Management

    • The demands for more functionalities from external users and for reducing workload primarily resulted in repetitive work from internal web developers lead to necessary change in order to streamline the web development process.

    • In many libraries, content for the web site is contributed by members of the library ranging from professionals, paraprofessionals, student assistants, and interns.

    • With so many participants involved, the process of content creation, editing, reviewing and publishing approval can be a messy chore.

    • To encourage non-technical members to actively contribute content, easy-to-use tools should be developed to remove the bottlenecks that prevent those from participating.

  • The workflow can be streamlined and assigned to appropriate contributors in a WCMS or web content management application is through templates, which allow non-technical contributor to participate “within pre-defined role”, but they are required to follow a series of steps.

  • The quality control component in the process of the workflow determines who and when the content is changed and published.

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    Cost Reduction

    • The need to reduce the cost of maintaining a library’s web site has also been an important factor. Questions we need to ask ourselves in trying to cut down the cost are:

      • How many library staff members and librarians within the library develop content?

      • How much of the content they developed is the same or similar?

      • How many computer workstations or places (email folders, individual hard drives, or web servers) are used to store these contents?

      • How many different tools are used to produce these contents?

      • How much time is spent by each individual to produce the content that is stored in someone else’s machine?

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    • Centralized vs distributed architecture (or hybrid)

      • A centralized approach favours those settings where central control and a strong uniform presence are desired.

      • A distributed model usually occurs where several small areas or sub-sites are operating in an independent fashion and have unique authoring characteristics based on the nature of the content. Where a database approach works for one unit, another department may wish to have more control over the design and look of their pages.

      • Hybrid approaches walk the middle ground and provide a range of supports from do-it yourself publishing to full-service offerings.

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    Approaches—Development Process

    • In-house vs. Out-sourced

      • The development of custom databases and systems using library or resident IT staff is commonplace in libraries. Often individual solutions are found in response to specific web challenges such as the creation of a database to provide a searchable collection of links.

      • Risks

        • Customized work is often best understood by the developer. Their departure from the library may present significant issues for new staff.

        • Documentation may be brief or non-existent.

        • Decisions may be based on personal preferences and not system needs.

        • Generally costs are low however and libraries may feel they can trade off some level of frustration in exchange.

      • Out-sourcing can get performance guarantees and ongoing maintenance support are strong advantages to out-sourcing.

      • Risks:

        • Cost becomes a primary factor of course. For smaller academic or public libraries, choosing a full-scale commercial WCM system is out of the question.

        • Out sourcing the process of development alone requires writing very detailed RFPs and specifications. The web team needs to research the process and feel comfortable with the technical terminology as well as the marketplace jargon in order to get delivery of a functional system that meets all the requirements.

    Approaches tools l.jpg

    • Proprietary vs Open-source Tools

      • Open Source

        • Open Source is that the software source code is published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees.

        • Flexible structures that are open to integration of other applications and development are best served by an open-source platform.

      • Proprietary Databases

        • Proprietary software is software that has restrictions on using and copying it, usually enforced by a proprietor. The prevention of use, copying, or modification can be achieved by legal or technical means. Technical means include releasing machine-readable binaries only, and withholding the human-readable source code. Legal means can involve software licensing, copyright and patent law.

        • Proprietary databases like Oracle or SQL Server can cost several thousands of dollars, putting them out of the reach of smaller libraries

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    More Information on WCMS

    • Content Management System Watch

      • http://www.cmswatch.com/CMS/

    • Comparison of content management systems

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_content_management_systems

    • Open Source

      • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source

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    Discussion Question

    • What are the reasons for designing a user-centered Web interface?