Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Interestingly, even in systems, it all goes back to human emotions. There are so many ways to feel bad about oneself, to feel stressed, disconnected and alienated both from one another and from organizations like the library. Our job as webmasters is to ensure a positive experience for the user.
Beyond getting out of the users’ way, experience design considers how an organization can provide fulfillment of a sort to users. A great example that David Lee King used, both in his preso today and his excellent new book (which I did buy, got signed by him (hurrah!) and am already halfway through) – Designing the Digital Experience, is the difference between going to MacDonald’s and going to Applebee’s. They both fulfill a basic need. But the latter implies a treat, an experience, an evening out, a social event, not just getting a burger.
There’s so much more to this than I can get down tonight. But in the interest of getting a post up for you, here are my raw notes from David Lee King’s talk this AM on Designing the Digital Experience:
Designing the digital Experience
David Lee King,
Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library
Digital branch manager
- Experience Economy, Piens - http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0875848192/bookstorenow57-20
- Marketing folks want you to create a 1-pg statement of experience wanted
Community path to experience design:
- Conversations taking place, formal, side converations, q&a – digitally how would that look?
- Where are conversations already being held
- Not just connecting with librarians, but with one another
- Invitations – passive & active – invite to comment – ask a question, for example?
- Different roles – content enablers, creators – we have to be good writers; web tool enablers
- Allowing commenting, not moderating, unless doing it promptly; if moderating comments gotta be quick or its not a conversation
- Participation – if no participation, no community
- Sense of familiarity – do you feel that you know your org through digital presence (provides fodder for conversation) – give patrons a sense of organizational familiarity
- Telling our stories:
o Who are you as an individual? As an organization? what are your creds? What shortcuts do you take (share them)?
o People want to participate in your story
o Twitter allows an experience of community
o Ustream – live stream of event with chat
- Our goal, hold convos, create community, participate
- How can libraries do like Starbucks
o Preshow: book review on website
o Postshow: discussion of book
o Help people meet others (through library)
o Extending physical experience into digital space in way not really possible in physical space
Customer Journey Mapping:
- Map out “touch points” – where customer interacts with organization – insights into customer needs & their experience of the organization
- Provides customer focus
- Library catalogs
- If going to build a new website - DON'T LOOK AT OTHER LIBRARY WEBSITES!!!!
- Connect with the customer – connect them to org, to your digital presence in an omnipresent way (ala Google connex) – our product = info
- Connect customers with one another
- Create an experience stage – work/play experience blog:
o “Your customers’ touch points are your stage set…”
- We can train to “write for participation”
Patron usage has gone up because Topeka-Shawnee pays attention to these considerations
Monday, March 30, 2009
“ Redesign: The Pitfalls & Perils & How to Avoid Them”
Jeff Wisniewski – email@example.com
Major redesigns every couple of years might not be the best way to do things. Smaller, more frequent changes would be less disruptive for users, easier for everyone;
Things you DON’T want to do:
- Redesigning when you don’t NEED to redesign
o Retuning / reskinning can be better
o Bad reasons to redo:
§ It’s been x months/years since we redesigned
§ The box says I have to
§ I’m boooooored with the site
Good reasons to redo:
· When navigation is dysfunctional
· When your site doesn’t scale
· When your site is difficult to update
· When your codes is hopelessly “cough cough” sick
· When your site has poor usability (hopefully you’re doing us ability testing on your site)
· When it’s not performing based on your sites’ goals/objectives (you do have those, right?)
Difference: Redevelop vs. redesign -- Redevelop = triple bypass; Redesign = cosmetic surgery
- Redesign – cost to you, cost to user both = low
- Redevelop - cost to you, cost to user both = high
Does site need to look completely different? (Amazon’s look & feel has stayed the same most of their existence, very successful – consistency over time helped)
Good to think about maintaining some consistency in look & feel even after redesign
The Quiet Death of the Major Re-Launch, copyright 2003
Users DISLIKE REDESIGNS … A LOT
- Facebook anti-redesign group has 1.7 million members
- Last.fm redesign drew over 2,000 comments, often strongly negative
· Beware the vocal majority
· Be evidence-based -- your new site tests better, right?
Redesign & 5 stages of user grief
· Denial: why did you change it? I was always abel to find what I needed
· Anger: You have rendered the site useless & I will never use it again
· Bargaining: If you could just revert to the old ejournal page (in addition) that would be great
· Depression: I have no idea what I’m going to do now
· Acceptance: While I dislike the redesign I was able to find the catalog
Bad reasons to redesign: Maintenance = boring; redesign = exciting
Do we really hate to redesign? Sometimes not so much, buys time. Someone complains about site usability and we say “I know, but we are going to redesign so, we’ll save it for that” (buys ourselves a few months breathing space).
Users like redesigned site better over time; webmasters dislike redesigned site more over time
· Pitfall: failing to account for assessment time & effort
· Spend your money where the water is: areas with greatest ROI should have effort expended - best services / content that you want
· Pitfall: not knowing enough about your current site before you begin
o Look at where people are going in the site, where they’re NOT going, what pages they enter into and what pages they leave from
§ Google Analytics
o Review page usability studies
o If it’s been a while do one NOW
o TIP: find and document your current Google Page Rank – search on commonly used search terms
o Don’t want to lose ground on SEO
· Pitfall: proceeding without consensus on goals, aka, buy-in (for some aspects –see below)
o Investing time reaching consensus on:
§ A need for change
§ What needs to be changed
· Tips on getting buy-in
o Show manager other libraries’ cool sites
o Show him/her data showing that site is not functioning
· Pitfall: Trying to Reach too much consensus
o Death by committee – depends on org culture
o Design by committee = DEATH!!!!
o Data + evidence-based practice = harmony & world peace
· Pitfall: being an expert
o Define the constituencies and INCLUDE them in the process
o Librarians ARE users of the site, but they’re also info experts with mad skills, so they aren’t good folks to test site for usability;
o If final design works great for users, but doesn’t work for the librarian, that’s ok, because as info pros, we can figure it all out – part of our jobs, but you can’t require the users to go through the extra effort to figure out an unusable site.
· Pitfall: Thinking inside the box
o Think about using non-traditional platform
· Pitfall: spending too much time “designing” (Seth Godin – Purple Cow – love his marketing books)
o “I’m going to go out on a limb and beg you not to create an original design; there are more than a billion pages on the web, surely there’s one you can start with?” Godin
o Can lose a lot of hours on not using templates, etc., just designing
o Spend time on great services, vs. content
· Look Here:
· Pitfall: Looking at only OTHER LIBRARY SITES
o Users’ expectations are NOT FORMED on library web sites, but by their experience on the web as a whole
· Pitfall: Not having smart goals for redesign
· E.g., Increase Google Page rank – x% improvement in usability; avg time to get content up on site reduced ; show increase in user engagement, as measured by number of blog comments
· Pitfall: failing to communicate enough:
o Consider a redesign blog or wiki
o Manage users’ expectations
· Pitfall: Communicating TOO MUCH
o Redesign by committee is rarely pretty (don’t use committee)
o Look to evidence to short circuit tedious discussions
· Pitfall: Not providing users a clear path
o Define the primary functions of your site & make sure these paths are clear
o Example, Queens Library as effective site – evidence that connecting people with materials is primary task
· Pitfall: Reinventing the wheel
· Where to spend time, $, effort
o Remarkable content:
§ All libraries have staffs full of experts
· Reading lists
· Course-based guides
o Remarkable tools
§ Next gen opac
§ Fed search
§ Ejournal finder
§ Photo tagging
§ Engagement tools for users (comments, reviews, blog posts)
§ Assignment calculator
o Cut & paste SHOULD DIE – REMARKABLE CONTENT… IS WELL WRITTEN CONTENT – NEVER JUST CUT AND PASTE – INVEST TIME IN REWRITING CONTENT – LOTS OF EVIDENCE SHOWS THAT YOUR LIBRARY WEBSITE COULD BE IMPROVED BY 100S OF PERCENTS SIMPLY BY REWRITING YOUR CONTENT FOR THE WEB
o Design for SEO:
§ url structure
· simple urls
· page titles (descriptive)
· proper and consistent use of structural html
o h1, h2, h3, e.g.
o Descriptive alt tags (for accessibility & search engines)
§ More SEO:
· Submit new sitemap to Google
o Ask Google to remove from cache
· Pitfall: not designing with SMO (Social media optimization in mind)
o Social bookmark links:
§ Tag your pages
§ Redesign with user-generated content in mind
· Pitfall: moving or eliminating good content
o Update robots.txt file
o Update your analytics definitions, paths, groups, etc.
· Pitfall: not planning beyond the redesign
o Content strategy
§ Mmm fresh – keep content fresh
§ Maintenance strategy
· Move from macro redesign to micro changes – the perpetual beta (can only be done if you redevelop in a sustainable way first go ‘round
I usually enjoy Lee Rainie’s opening keynote, even though it has a similar structure each year (hey, it works for me!). This year his opening keynote – “Friending Libraries: The Nodes In People’s Social Networks” – offered a look at the latest Pew research on the state of our nation’s interaction with the internet and more importantly, turned it into something particularly relevant for libraries. In the keynote, Rainie broke down the many types of internet users (and non-users) out there & how we, as libraries, can best serve their needs.
· in 2000, only 46% of adults used the Internet, 5% with broadband, 50% w/cell phone, <10%>53% cloud computing
· fast, mobile connections built around outside servers and storage has produced 10 info ecosystem changes:
· volume, variety, velocity of info increased; no longer tied to time/location to get info; people's expertise goes deeper when interested
· immersive qualities of media are more compelling; relevance of info is far greater and more important
· number of "voices" is greater and more findable; 1/2 of adults are content creators; more teens (2/3 I think he said?) content creators
· social networks more vivid; voting/ventilating enabled; go to social networks to sort through & make sense of info (first place to turn to for help)
· Rainie posited that libraries could/should/need to be nodes in people’s social networks.
· The first breakdown is between the 39% of population motivated by mobility; 61% tied to stationary media.
· 42-43% connect to the online world wirelessly via laptop, 59% via cellphone;
· 5 subgroups in each of these types (mobile vs. stationary users)
· mobile folks: digital collaborators (8%)=IS A GEN X NOT GEN Y GROUP
It’s definitely no longer enough to imagine that there’s the “digital natives” and “nonnatives” (see my notes above about how that most cutting edge, engaged online group – “digital collaborators” are profiled as Gen X, NOT Gen Y).
There are “subgroups” in the general that have different levels of fluency and willingness in dealing with technology to get them online. There are those who are highly jacked in only via their cell phone, in several age groups, but less so via their computers.
The big question that Rainie posed in all of this (and the answers he provided in general terms) was - how can your library can meet the very specific needs of today's users (understanding that those needs and users themselves have changed considerably in recent years)? And libraries have to ask themselves, not only what these constituencies need, but how do they need it delivered?
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
But if you want to go - it's tomorrow - you can sign up at http://futurelibs09.wikispaces.com/... did I mention that it's free and hosted (once again) at the lovely Darien Library? I'm always impressed by a library that provides such leadership helping other librarians and libraries... it doesn't have to - but it is an exemplar of how all libraries (and librarians) behave when they are at their best - sharing ideas, helping one another to move forward - all for the greater good of our patrons and society as a whole.
So we talked about Use Case Scenarios for our website at today's Web Presence Committee Meeting. Though none of us are (clearly) very experienced in developing such scenarios, it was a good exercise. We probably should've id'ed our actors much more specifically (as many use case scenarios seem to do - e.g, Attorney Smith, who's 65, near to retirement, an immigration attorney, male, etc.) But we didn't. Still the way we did it, generic though it may have been, got us to think about actions and the people who do those actions. Next go 'round we'll do it better. I have to transfer these to the intranet & publicize to staff so they can add a bit.
This has been the week of peripheral projects requiring some attention. I need a staff. I really do. Like at least a few folks. But anyhow. I've been working on a grant-funded website / Drupal installation to support it & talking with folks about migrations of websites... one may be an ASP .NET site moving to Drupal??? And then I've been conferring with folks on our own migration. And I still have so many issues left to deal with - big projects - most seemingly database-related / centered. Joy.
But let me just say this, I'm a Drupal moron. I can't get all of the nice WYSIWYG editor features to work & play well with one another. Plus, I'm SO disappointed in the YUI editor, which held so much promise. A few things I just couldn't get it past (a) no source code option; (b) appearance of text in Arial, not the sitewide style - until published; (c) preview not working; (d) fixed font sizes, as opposed to relative (which = an accessibility issue); (e) doesn't automatically create hyperlink from web address you've copied/pasted into your content. But I did love how it handled inline image uploading. It was a thing to behold. Then I switched back to FCKEditor, since YUI editor clearly wasn't making the grade. I activated IMCE & cited that as the image uploader in the FCKeditor settings (I believe it was). It was there and seemed to work, but hung on the image's upload.
And how do I get cron to run when I don't have a cmd line interface (I don't think - will have to see about my ISP's options... plus to remember the cron format...)? Will the Reports start working (stats & all) if I get cron running?
Rrrrggghhh.... back to my saying ("I love technology --- when it works") or my other saying ("So many things in the world to feel bad about"). Ah that great Drupal flexibility. One day, I'll be so used to the system, will have figured out how to get it to do the necessary backflips, I'll be telling others about how easy it is to work with. Right? ;)
Monday, March 23, 2009
1. Google's to do list - wasn't there supposed to be a Google Tasks option that was developed in Google Labs & is supposed to work by my adjusting the settings of my Gmail account... I can't find said tasks list option. Maybe this is for the best, though, as I got a little perturbed to discover that such an animal existed after I paid for my Remember the Milk upgrade, largely because it integrates with Google calendar.
2. Remember the Milk. OK, since I brought it up... why won't it let me add new tags? You can create custom lists, which I did quite a bit of this AM, but then I also wanted to add in tags, so I don't solely have to rely on lists to subdivide my to-dos (e.g., financial under my personal section for all of the scary stuff!) I go into the same settings/options section I go into to create my lists & there's a tab named "tags". It seems reasonable. But there are no tags there and the suggestion that I create some, but no way to do so. My only options, in fact are to merge or delete my nonexistent tags. wth?
3. YUI WYSIWYG editor for the conservationct.org project - no source code option! wth?! I'm in as admin & have to straighten something out, but to do so, I need to get into the source code for the entry (to remove an inline style that appears to have stuck itself in the entry... at least, I'm pretty sure that's the issue, but since I can't go into the source I can't even try to fix it up). That's a showstopper. Might be time to return to FCKeditor / IMCE struggles on the Drupal installation & forget about ever-so-pretty YUI. Or maybe admin needs FCKeditor, but the editors/content creators can deal with YUI. We'll have to play around with it & see what's what.
4. CUIL - again, wth?! I fixed the robots.txt to make the CUIL crawlers happy (nevermind that Google's fine with us...) and emailed a response to the CUIL engineers to let them know. I'd done this at the end of last week. As of today, however, a search on our organization's name still only includes links to other sites (e.g., Wikipedia) and subpages of our site - none to our home page.
On the upside, I discovered 2 Wordpress installations I'd done a while back to meet a couple of internal users' needs. I'd forgotten that I'd already done them. I amaze myself. Really. Not. Yup, I'm gonna have to start some sort of time/task/project mgt system (ala RTM?) that ensures that the stuff I get done actually gets out the door. No good to do the work & not put it into production.
Yeah, well that's a wrap for this Monday - time to go home.
Friday, March 20, 2009
This time, I get an immediate reply from their VP of Marketing, I believe, followed up by further emails. By this AM, I had a full assessment of what - from their bots' programming was the problem with my site's robots.txt file. Now, understand, I've never spent a LOT of time on our robots.txt file & learning how it hangs together. I knew the basic syntax and put it together in a way that the googlebot didn't mind. Apparently, CUIL's bot did. In fairness to CUIL, I had redundancy in my robots.txt file because I wasn't careful in the robots.txt construction, so it makes sense why their bot does what it does. In fairness to me, if it worked with Google, it seemed reasonable.
My big mistake was to try and to specify levels of directories using wildcards. /*/*.css for example (no, I have no idea why I was so paranoid that the wildcards wouldn't be enough to designate that the pattern I wanted to avoid wouldn't be enough to ensure that the pattern was avoided at all directory levels. My bad.)
So I've fixed it & we'll see if that fixes CUIL. If it does, then I'll probably start recommending it to others out there. In the meantime, they definitely get an A for customer service to webmasters this go 'round.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
2. Of course, I’m disappointed that only 1 of the great librarians from our state made it to the list this year (and that only 3 have appeared overall), but I wanted to nonetheless send a special congratulations to Yale’s Joe Murphy, for coming up with iPhone-based SMS reference. All of the CT recipients from 2002-2009 are listed below:
Alice S. Knapp, 2003
Kathy Leeds, 2006
Joe Murphy, 2009
3. Finally, I know so many great librarians (particularly in CT) – including folks who train other librarians to greatness – that I wanted to send a special shout out to all of them. I can’t list you all – most of you already know what high regard I hold you in – how full my heart feels when I think of you and the great work that you’re doing, often in the face of great challenges (both professional and personal).
I think of how I sometimes get a little discouraged, or need some guidance & how there are librarians, mentors, colleagues, and friends I can turn to in order to get back on track. They help me to find the peace again and so, to problem-solve and fulfill my potential, to move the organization forward, and to encourage others in their pursuits.
I’m so grateful for the committee that advises me in my work, my boss who has great vision and quick understanding of the issues at hand, my Twitter and FB friends, the brilliant L2.0 crowd I get to “play” with at camps and conferences like CIL. So many ideas, so much positive energy… every time there are negative and discouraging words, it only makes me more grateful for the encouraging ones.
Think about it like this – for every project that the Movers & Shakers bring to life, there must have been at least one other person (e.g., a boss who allowed it to happen, a colleague who encouraged) who supported them in their endeavor. There is no such thing as truly individual achievement, we all help one another, and we succeed together. I know, I know, I must be part-millennial – I want everyone to go home with a trophy – but honestly, in your heart of hearts, you must know that you also deserve praise for the role that you play in the library world. You really do.
Friday, March 13, 2009
And I should add, it led me to an interesting bit at the Wired How-To Wiki: "Open Up Government Data".
Thursday, March 12, 2009
First, the plain Drupal install creates a fillable form for adding content, just as you'd expect. Second, unlike you'd expect, if you've become used to blog / wiki software, there is a lack of WYSIWYG editor support for your content creators. Part of Drupal's strength is its lightweight core installation. But as a result, not everything you would think would be included is... instead you need to add modules. In this case, the all-powerful visual editing functionality that the content creators I'm working with need requires the addition of a WYSIWYG editing module, such as TinyMCE, FCKeditor, or YUI Rich Text Editor (there are a number out there besides these, of course).
First, I compared Drupal WYSIWYG editors:
- In http://drupal.org/node/208456, FCKeditor did well (passed with valid code & passed a module test)
http://marist89.blogspot.com/2007/12/picking-wysiwyg-editor-for-drupal.html - went with FCKeditor over TinyMCE due to tags being messed up
- http://www.nicklewis.org/node/994 - reviewed "WYSIWYG editor modules for drupal 6: FCKEditor, TinyMCE, WYMeditor, jwysiwyg, HTMLBox. The latter three aren't yet mature, so I saved the in depth reviews for the big guys, tinyMCE and FCKeditor." Recommends FCKeditor, but then goes back & totally says YUI Editor is the BEST (http://nicklewis.org/drupal-hackers-cookbook/module-guide/wysiwyg-editors/yui-editor)
Well, I can't give you too many details right now, because after a day and a half of struggling with FCKeditor's integration with IMCE for easy image file uploading, I found YUI Rich Text Editor (per the recommendation of one of the reviewers listed above). I'll go back into my FCKeditor struggles another time. For today, let me talk about YUI Rich Text Editor.
I'd initially ignored YUI because of its failed rating on its html output per the comparisons at http://drupal.org/node/208456 (version 5 Drupal WYSIWYG editors). I'm hoping that it's better now. In fact, in its latest iteration (11/25/08, sounds recent enough to me!) – yui_editor 6.x-2.33 now offers IMCE support, so that's a plus (since I'd been thinking about using IMCE since John Blyberg mentioned it at DrupalCamp).
YUI Rich Text Editor has the dependency of Yahoo YUI module. Also, it requires a YUI library, which you can either run remotely off of Yahoo servers (this is the very easy default setting) or locally, by installing a local yui library. It's the latter part that doesn't work right, though. At least, not until you "get it".
The main bit of "it" being an understanding of how your Drupal implementation is structured. When the instructions/troubleshooting hints tell you to point the common settings to files/lib, don't believe them. When other instructions tell you to point the Yahoo Common Settings to files/yui or files/yui-2.6.0, don't necessarily assume that the instructors are writing about YOUR setup. In my case, I have a site hosted on a 3rd-party ISP. I have a public_html folder. I guess it's my document root, but it's not the root directory I get into via the ISP's remote access control panel. But for me, the correct setting for the yui local library was a pointer to sites/default/files/yui-2.6.0.
And yui-2.7.0b doesn't seem to integrate with the yui for drupal yet. At least I couldn't get it to work. The moment I repointed my settings from the yui-2.6.0 folder to the yui-2.7.0b folder, I got errors on my IE when trying to create content, something about "JSON" pointers not working or something like that. I just repointed. I've already wasted all day on this, so I have to get going. No time to get the exact info – sorry about that!
I'm wondering what, if anything, I would actually need IMCE for now, given that the YUI seems to take care of uploading images in the context of the editor.
I haven't hammered this editor yet, so I can't say for certain how it will perform under serious user testing. I also haven't checked to see if its output HTML validates or not. I'll let you know what happens.
And – if I get a chance, I'll write this process and more notes about FCKeditor & IMCE up in additional postings. I'll have to write up the step-by-step of installing and configuring the YUI & YUI Rich Text Editor modules for myself, anyway. Posting them hopefully would help someone else.
Monday, March 09, 2009
2. re: the newspaper crisis, which is so similar to the crisis in libraries... With the disintermediation of the web these days, people are both seeking and creating information online themselves. Those of us overly tied to the old printed format for information and old production methods are becoming obsolete. Still, a free democracy requires an educated citizenry. Information has to be free. This is why public libraries are so important to our civic lives & why they are largely supported by public funding. Newspapers, on the other hand, have traditionally been a commercial enterprise supported by advertising (primarily) and subscriptions (to a lesser degree, though the readership sets the advertising rates). But both readers & advertisers now have free (or cheaper) alternatives online and traditionally-run newspapers are unable to compete. But we still need high-quality, locally generated news. We still need the product that reporters and editors provide.
On this morning's "Where We Live" (a program aired on WNPR, National Public Radio) they talked about "The Vanishing Capitol Press Corps". In this program, a couple of excellent reporters who used to cover Connecticut's legislature, government, and area politics and have recently been laid off from their newspapers spoke about the problems with the newspaper business in this day and age. The real issue seems to be - how do we support the kind of hard-hitting, unbiased, local reporting that we need in order to be well-informed participants in our democracy?
I began to think about the library's role in newspapers. (Heck, I started in library computer systems by working in a newspaper's news library as they converted from a clip file system to a database, so I know a bit about the important relationship that news reporters have with librarians.) I began to think - wouldn't it be great if libraries became a mechanism for supporting local reporters?
We could put together a community portal in which the reporters published regularly and people responded to the things that were published in real-time (yes, I know traditional newspapers have finally entered into the blogosphere, but I'm thinking that newspapers have let so many good people go due to their corporate structure that we'll need alternative news venues). The point would be to sponsor journalism with no strings attached. Libraries could support information creation. The libraries who supported news creation could also support it at the research level, of course, providing the reference materials needed by reporters. Conceivably, the library could keep databases archiving said community-level reporting & maybe even help defray costs by selling subscriptions to the archives. Now that I think about it, a side benefit would be to bypass the Proquests of the world by engaging in such an effort. Just a thought. I know, a wild thought, but figured it would be worth throwing out there - why not?