Website Redesign going live and going Responsive

Well, I didn’t really post much about my library’s website redesign. But next week, we go live with it!

You can check it out now at our beta, pre-launch URL – dev.tscpl.org.

Here’s our go-live process:

  • Work on the site like crazy (we still have a big list of stuff to do!)
  • Today, we posted a head’s up to our customers, and asked them for feedback, too
  • We go live on January 29
  • Then, we’ll continue to tweak things as we notice them for 2-4 weeks.
  • Sometime after the big launch, we plan to have Influx take a peek, to catch stuff we missed.
  • Finally, we plan to do some usability testing to catch even MORE stuff we missed.

So, what’s new and different about our redesigned site? Quite a bit:

  • We went responsive, so one set of code works on all browsers and devices.
  • We have consolidated some of our blogs
  • Really worked hard on our links, our navigation, and directing people to the right content
  • Modern design, modern web fonts, white space, etc
  • On the back-end, we focused on letting WordPress do most of the work, instead of custom-coding. This will make things like sidebar widgets and pages MUCH easier for us to update

And probably much more that I’m missing. So go check it out!

iPads for the Tweens

We have an iPad pilot project going on at our library right now. If it goes well, we might expand the project – more iPads, more areas, etc.

But for now, here’s what we’re doing:

  • We have two iPads out in our kid’s area – specifically in our Tweens area (kids ages 9-12)
  • Somewhere, we found some huge, spongy iPad cases
  • Each iPad has some games, art apps, and other age-appropriate apps
  • They are chained to a table so they don’t walk off

And they seem to be pretty popular!

[GARD align=”right”] The project is going well so far. We started off with some pretty normal black sleeve/cases – those didn’t last long, hence the huge, thick, spongy cases. There’s no power connected to them, so we have to recharge them every day. And I think we’ve had some problems keeping customers out of settings, etc. Sure, you can set up a password for some things – but that won’t keep people out of all the settings on an iPad.

Otherwise – it’s going well, and we’ll assess it and either grow the project or kill it, depending on feedback.

What’s your library doing with iPads or tablets? I’m curious!

Website Redesign Time!

My library is in the beginning stages of another website redesign. Our beginning thoughts were simply that we wanted to move to a responsive site design, to help out our mobile website visitors (hitting 20% and growing).

Then we realized all that back-end re-coding work pretty much meant a complete redesign. And there are some other things we want to address and improve, so doing a redesign makes sense.

I thought I might post once in awhile about the redesign process. Could be interesting…

What have we done so far?

  • I met with a group of customers, and asked them what they wanted in a website (see the image in this post for the notes on that session – here’s the Flickr link to it)
  • held some meetings with our Creative Group and our web team
  • created some early, rough draft mockups of the site – a main page, a blog post, and a mobile version of the main page.

Today, we kicked off a series of staff brainstorming meetings. In these meetings, I introduce the concept of responsive design, give some reasons why we are redesigning, and show off our mockups. Then, we brainstorm on these questions:

  • What do you like about the current website?
  • Where do customers get stuck when using the website?
  • What’s missing on our website?
  • What do you think can be improved?

Once these meetings are done, the next step will be to summarize the brainstorming sessions, and present that to our leadership team. Assuming that goes fine, then the website coding starts in earnest.

Should be a fun time!

Still Talking about Old Technology?

I’m guessing that your organization is still talking about how to implement old technology. You are holding meetings, creating working groups, forming committees. All based around implementing something that still seems new to you, but in reality is pretty darn old!

“Old technology? No way!” you say. Wanna bet? Here’s a short list of technology that gets discussed in libraries right now, with origin/founding/first appeared dates (yay for Wikipedia!):

  • Twitter – 7 years old (founded 2006)
  • Facebook – 9 years old (founded 2004)
  • ebooks – 42 years old (we’ll say 1971, though prototypes and patents go all the way back to the 1940s!)
  • ebook readers – 15 years old (1998, probably earlier)
  • QR Codes – 19 years old (created in 1994)
  • PC with OS’s newer than XP – 7 years old (Vista came out in 2006, though no one actually used it)
  • Apple Mac – 29 years old (Came out in 1984. I’ll guess many people remember the commercial, but haven’t actually used one)
  • Cell phones – 40 years old (First call made in 1973)
  • smart phones – 12 years old (started appearing in 2001)
  • text messaging – 21 years old (created in 1992)
  • IM/Chat messaging – 25 years old (IRC appeared in 1988)
  • wifi – 25 years old (appeared in 1988)
  • RFID – 30 years old (first patent in 1983)
  • Youtube – 8 years old (founded in 2005)
  • mp3 files for music – 19 years old (appeared in 1994)
  • digital media labs – 93 years old (ok, this one’s really hard to date. DMLs are really just small recording studios, which have been around in one form or another since at least the 1920s)
  • hackerspaces – 47 years old (This is another hard one to date. The Chaos Computer Club, an early hackerspace, was founded in 1981. But I think you could put the Homebrew Computer Club in this list, started in 1975, which helped spawn Apple. And my dad and my uncle Bob have had workshops in their basements with all sorts of crazy machinery since I’ve been alive. So I’m dating these at 47 years old :-)
  • Cloud computing – 63 years old (There have been mainframes/dumb terminals since the 1950s, which could be argued to be early cloud-based computing)
  • 3D Printing – 29 years old (the first working 3d printer appeared in 1984)

So I ask again – are you talking about old technology … like it’s new technology? Do you have staff who can’t use ebooks, are wary of smartphones or text messaging reference, or look at you crazy when you introduce the concept of a hackerspace to them? Is your library/city/governing board still wary of new-fangled social media tools like Facebook or Cloud computing?

Makes you think, doesn’t it!

Steampunk mobile phone pic by Urban Don

Helpdesk Ticket Tracking Software – what are your options?

IT helpdesk ticket tracking software – my library uses it. Right now, we use Track-It by BMC. But it’s clunky, hard to use, and isn’t quite meeting our needs anymore. So it’s time to start exploring our options!

Guess what? There are a TON of options out there. But first, what would we want in an IT helpdesk software package? Here are some features you should think about:

  • incident management – basic “track that IT problem” function
  • Searchable knowledgebase – document the fixes and answers … and create a powerful database of “what to do when”
  • Reporting – for managers like me. You need to keep track of # of tickets, # of closed tickets, # of still-open tickets, who worked on the problem, who had the problem (for potential follow-up with training if needed), etc.
  • Windows software, server-based, or web/cloud based?
  • Other functions that might be useful, depending on your setup, include LDAP/Active Directory integration, asset and contract management, email integration, and scheduling.

These hosted services seem to be all the rage right now, and I have to admit – they look pretty good (at least, compared to what we currently have in place):

I also recently asked for recommendations, and what other organizations are currently using, via Twitter and Facebook. Here’s what some of you mentioned:

So there’s a good list to get you started. Anyone have experience with any of these? Like or dislike them? Sound off in the comments!

pic by michaeljzealot