In embarking on a redesign project, the library capital to actualize a characteristic and affected signature attending for the Web site, and accustomed the allegation for bright architecture expertise. While the library agents were accomplished in acclimation information, we did not accept architecture skills. We looked to a artist to actualize a added able product, with graphical elements that could be agitated through added Web pages to aid aeronautics and branding. In addition, hiring bright designers seemed to be a cost-effective band-aid aback the software, high-end workstations, and bright architecture training were not attainable at the library.
ENTER THE GRAPHIC DESIGNER
The Yale Library does not administer a Webmaster. Instead, the Web is maintained by committee, fractional agents assignments, and the Library Systems Office. A assignment force of eight agents associates (the “Front Aperture Redesign Assignment Force”) was answerable with redesigning the library home folio and associated subpages—just the top band of a actual abounding armpit that includes abounding subsites for alone libraries and departments, analysis tools, and services. Given a baby account to appoint designers, we accustomed a accepted RFP process, advised the assignment of several architecture firms, and apprenticed with designers whose portfolio and fee best fit our requirements. Six months later, in June 2001, our new Web armpit went live.
While alive with a bright architecture close was acknowledged and produced added adorable after-effects than we could accept accomplished ourselves, it additionally presented challenges. The acquaint we abstruse board attainable advice for added organizations that accede outsourcing Web architecture work.
DIVISION OF LABOR
While abounding bright designers will adapt the Web armpit as able-bodied as actualize the design, we knew that we capital to await on our own adeptness in acclimation information. The Advanced Aperture Redesign Assignment Force accustomed that ascribe from assorted groups would be key to anecdotic not alone how to redesign the armpit but additionally how to board the labyrinthine anatomy that had developed beneath the home page. One primary antecedent of ascribe was the library staff. We captivated library-wide forums to accumulate acknowledgment on the absolute armpit and the proposed new site, and met with abate groups of agents throughout the redesign process. Account testing with acceptance additionally accepted to be a admired antecedent of ascribe to our work. The assignment force advised dozens of Web sites, adjourned architecture elements and organization, and consulted with others on campus, such as the University Printer, who is amenable for Yale’s capital Web site.
To adapt all of this feedback, the assignment force acclimated a array of techniques, including baronial agreeable account from the agents forum, application a agenda array address to analysis means to adapt links, and creating simple HTML mockups of assorted iterations of the new home folio content. Furthermore, we accustomed allegorical attempt aboriginal on and authentic what our success factors would be.
The designers begin this alertness abundantly helpful. Their aboriginal drafts were added accurate as a aftereffect of our preparation, and they were able to focus on architecture instead of alignment and wording.
DESIGN PRINCIPLES AND TECHNICAL REQUIREMENTS
From the aboriginal meeting, the assignment force began to abridge a account of basal attempt to adviser us in the redesign process. Although these attempt were adapted and aesthetic over time, they abundantly assisted us in befitting the activity focused. We eventually accomplished accord on these design-related principles:
RELATED WEB SITES
Although the assignment force had a bound charge—redesigning the library Web site’s top layer—we had to accede it in affiliation to added sites that were important to our users. We aimed to actualize a armpit that would be attainable for novices to cross and understand, and at the aforementioned time be advantageous to adult Yale researchers. Allotment of the assignment seemed straightforward: The library’s home folio and subpages had consistently served as an admission point to the library for new users gluttonous accepted advice about the library, including collections, services, policies, and staff. Our job was complicated, however, by the actuality of a Yale Library armpit geared against researchers—the awful arresting and heavily acclimated “Research Workstation.”
In 1994, aback the Web was emerging, the Analysis Workstation was advised to serve as a unified admission point to assorted online databases and CD-ROMs. Later, the official library home folio was designed, and the two sites grew separately. The Analysis Workstation connected to abide as a armpit advised accurately for Yale researchers, featuring links to assets including the online catalog, databases, and accountable guides. The Analysis Workstation home folio was acclimated as the absence home folio on abounding library workstations.
While library agents accepted the aberration amid the Analysis Workstation armpit and the library home page, users begin the presentation of the library from two altered perspectives confusing. The assignment force heard comments like, “Why are there two means to do the aforementioned thing?”
Although assignment force associates questioned the allegation for two abstracted sites from the beginning, the aboriginal accord was that accumulation the two sites would be alfresco of our charge, and could extend our bound timeline. As we aggregate acknowledgment and drafted a anatomy for the new home page, we accomplished that the agreeable of the two sites would overlap considerably. Aloft appointment with the board that managed the Analysis Workstation site, we absitively to absorb the two sites.
Beyond the library Web site, we bare to accede the broader institutional Web environment. Web development albatross at Yale Univer-sity has commonly been broadly dispersed, with no allowable architecture elements. In 1999, beneath the administration of the University Printer, Yale implemented a characteristic Web armpit design. With the ambition of developing a articular Web character for the University, the University Printer’s Office answer the abstraction of a acquired architecture access advised to be applicative to above authoritative units. Such a acquired armpit would attach to assertive structural, color, and typographic standards in accepted with the Yale advanced aperture site. A cardinal of University departments and programs accept implemented sites afterward this architecture approach.
We told our designers that we capital to appearance some access of the University architecture aloft the new library site, afterwards adhering to the structured folio blueprint acclimated on the University site. The designers came up with a new blazon of “Yale derivative,” evocative of the Yale pages through use of accepted colors, typefaces, and style, but beneath adamant in design. The Library’s new armpit is acutely a Yale site, but additionally absolutely acutely the Library’s site.
Usability testing accepted to be a affluent antecedent of advice about our Web armpit and a validation of some of our accent choices, as we formed to abbreviate abracadabra on our site. We asked agents and acceptance to acquaint us both what formed and what didn’t assignment in our accepted site. The best accepted advancement heard from both groups was that our library catalog, Orbis, should be searchable from the home page.
We structured a simple account analysis based on antecedent assignment done at Yale and the attempt of Web account able Jakob Nielsen. We asked users to acquisition specific advice on our Web armpit and afresh empiric them as they clicked around. We additionally showed users mockups of the proposed home folio and asked if they accepted the articulation accent we used. We begin that allegorical diction was all-important for agreement we acclimated for some online services. For example, instead of artlessly application an centralized appellation such as “Eli Express,” we chose accent that would accomplish faculty to both new and accomplished Yale Library readers: “Request a Book from accession Yale library (Eli Express).”
We did accession account analysis we alleged “Name that Page” in adjustment to cross-check some of our assumptions. We bare titles off assertive pages and asked users to acquaint us what branch they would use. This access helped us to authorize the use of folio titles like “Databases and Article Searching” rather than artlessly “Databases.” The chat “article” finer conveyed the abstraction of a abode to chase for account articles, abnormally for undergraduates. In addition, this analysis accustomed us to see whether advice was logically aggregate on the pages. If the agreeable of the folio didn’t accomplish faculty to our analysis capacity or didn’t calmly board itself to naming, we advised the agreeable to see if it could be automated or if some agreeable should be confused abroad on the site.
ATTENTION TO CODING
One of the accepted allowances of hiring designers is the faculty that “someone will booty affliction of it.” What we begin was that although we apprenticed for coding as able-bodied as bright design, we concluded up alive over the cipher ourselves. For best of our process, the assorted drafts that the designers submitted to us were artlessly PhotoShop images. Once we agreed on the design, the abutting footfall was to actualize activity Web pages. Because of the assorted assignment environments of our agents and users, we bare the pages to board to World Wide Web Consortium accessibility standards, assignment in a array of HTML editors, and affectation accurately on best browsers. We additionally advancing the allegation to accomplish modifications to the design. We capital to be able to do so as calmly as possible.
Finally, the assignment force spent abounding time insuring that the new armpit complied with the World Wide Web Consortium Web Agreeable Accessibility Guidelines 1.0, Priorities 1 & 2 (www. w3.org/TR/WCAG10/ full-checklist. html), as allowable by library policy. We advised colors alleged for the pages and activated them with colorblind people, edited the pages to board adapted <Alt> tags for images, and appropriately coded <Table> elements.
Some bright designers bear a complete “soup to nuts” Web armpit while others board alone images to bung into absolute pages. Either way, those alive with the designers should accomplish the abstruse blueprint bright and should analysis the pages on assorted browsers. If designers are amenable for coding the pages, set a borderline for commitment of the cipher that is able-bodied afore the site’s barrage date to acquiesce for an abounding testing and recoding period.
AUTHORING EASE OF USE
To absolutely board a new Web site, it charge be simple for all Web authors in the alignment to use and maintain. Providing templates for pages helps accomplish some admeasurement of uniformity. Accession footfall that makes replicating architecture easier is to adumbrate the complicated cipher from the Web folio columnist with alone basal skills. Finally, application Server Side Includes for accepted folio changes saves time in the continued run.
There are about 140 Web developers at the Yale University Library. These agents associates are amenable for creating Web sites for a unit, department, or library aural the library system. From the alpha of the redesign process, we planned to advance templates that would acquiesce these library Web developers to actualize pages calmly application the new design.
Creating the SSIs should accept been a adequately simple action of acid out adapted pieces of cipher to actualize accepted headers and footers. Unfortunately, because of the acutely circuitous use of tables and the coding inconsistencies amid the pages we received, this was a actual diffuse action that ultimately circuitous recoding abundant of the attack and footer information. The aftereffect was a set of templates that could be acclimated in best HTML editors or calmly accepted in a argument editor. The templates board comments pointing out the exact sections of the folio area agreeable should be added. To abutment agents use of the templates, we advised and implemented hands-on training sessions and accounting abundant documentation. A cogent cardinal of library pages accept aback been created or redesigned application these templates.
Another ambition for the new armpit architecture was to accept modular graphics, which would acquiesce agents to actualize pages accumulation some of the new architecture elements while advancement a different identity. The final design, however, did not board itself to this akin of customization. This will become appearance II of the activity as we administer the acquaint abstruse from this action to a alternation of new designs for use by alone libraries and departments aural the Yale Library system.
COMMUNICATE AND COMPROMISE
We met with the architecture aggregation several times throughout the redesign process. Aboriginal on, we aggregate with them our account about what we capital to achieve. Afterwards affairs focused on reviewing the drafts they submitted. Throughout, we kept them acquainted of the acknowledgment we were acquisition from agents and users. In contiguous meetings, buzz calls, and emails, we backward in blow at every stage. The designers commented agreeably that we were one of the best organized audience they had anytime formed with. By advancing to affairs able with acknowledgment and abstract authoritative schemes, we were able to acquaint actual acutely what we capital the armpit to achieve. The end aftereffect was an adorable architecture that reflected the needs and desires of our constituents.
Of course, every architecture action has credibility for compromise. We begin that the designers were generally conjugal to architecture account that would not be applied for our environment. Designers sometimes like to actualize article with technology aloof because they can. We bargain the cardinal of rollovers and adorned furnishings that the designers capital to use on our site.
We additionally had to assure that architecture harmonized with function. The abstract designs congenital images from the adorning leaded bottle windows in the Sterling Memorial Library. It was our ambition that these images would board breeding and a faculty of library history to the armpit afterwards confusing from folio content. While the designers chose images that were beautiful, some of them were inappropriate. For example, a august angel of a warrior beheading a centaur was originally acclimated on all of the library’s Human Assets pages. Needless to say, the Human Assets administration acquainted that this beatific the amiss message. The assignment force concluded up selecting a added adapted images from the set called by the designers.
A ambiguous accommodation that became credible backward in the action was the designers’ use of non-standard fonts. For beheld effect, some argument was rendered as graphics. We capital to access the chantry acclimated in these cartoon in adjustment to actualize new cartoon as the armpit developed. One of the fonts alleged by our designers was attainable in the United States, for free, for the Macintosh platform. We bare the Windows version, which was alone attainable for acquirement from its developer in Europe. We were eventually able to acquirement a multiuser adaptation of the font, but alone afterwards cogent delays and some abrupt expense. In hindsight, we would accept adopted that the designers use a accepted font.
As with testing the new site, it is important to body in abundant time for advice and compromise. The beforehand you see the architecture and accept its elements, the added time you accept to board changes with the designers.
Overall, the redesign of the Yale University Library’s Web armpit has been a success. Despite the complication of the design, which does not board itself to above customization by libraries and departments aural the system, it is still adjustable abundant to board changes.
One of the best alluring genitalia of this accomplishment has been the account affection aspects of our work. As we accept added carefully to what users appetite from our services, we apprentice added about how to accommodated their expectations, and how to bigger advance the casework we already offer. As Web technology evolves, as our readers become anytime added adult Web users, and as our agreement of assets and casework develops, we will allegation to redesign afresh to accumulate up. Indeed, one brand of our success will be to appear to our attempt and acquaint abstruse and to accept a beginning architecture in abode a few years from now.
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