While we've been a bit busy with other things recently, developing a Surface app is going to be a lot of fun. I've been looking for examples of other library Surface apps, and got a few ideas from this video, and thought I'd pass it along. Normally scheduled blogging will resume next week, with the first in a series on Mobile website development!
Going Mobile Series
Celebrate good times: the new web site is live! There are still some things we'd like to improve and update, but the heavy lifting has been performed, and we've moved from the "Two web designers. One Week. Can they survive updating and improving 150+ pages, ensuring their compatibility in 7 different browsers?" phase (I'm pitching that to some studio execs), to the "Ongoing Maintenance" phase.
As we make this transition and gear up for our next scheduled projects, I want to think about even more ways we can improve the web site. In my opinion, one of the best ways to do that at this point is to create a mobile site.
To check out our work so far (which is nearing completion), please check out the Library Website on Set.
One change you might immediately notice is the improvement to the top-level pages, such as "About Us" and "Site Search." We've taken the previously hard to read lists and formatted them using a style similar to the new home page. We hope this makes the sections more scannable, and therefore easier to identify information.
Furthermore, you might notice that Michael had the idea to split up the old "Help and Instruction" link into "Help" and "Using the Library," each with their own page. We hope this will address problems found while performing usability studies.
The word "cool" might be dangerous, but that's what makes it so fun! I'm not sure if this is widely known or not, but a few months back the Libraries purchased a Flash Media Streaming Server. What that means is that we now have the ability to stream high quality Flash video and sound, a huge improvement over our previous Real Media setup. Generally speaking, roughly 98% of people have the Flash Player, under 50% have Real Media Player. Furthermore, the quality and delivery methods are superior with Flash (think YouTube).
Now that we have this fantastic piece of technology in place, it's time to brainstorm cool ways to use it. I have three ideas I think could be a lot of fun and that could really help our patrons out.
30 Second Reference Screencasts
I basically pass out while watching 5+ minute screencasts. And as I watch most library screencasts, I think I could maybe last for 30 seconds. My Web 2.0 riddled brain just can't handle a monotone voice on top of a library website, and I'm guessing many our patrons may be on a similar wavelength.
Over the last few weeks I've been
obsessed with working on the home page, and one important feature in particular: the new music & video search tab.
Previously, it was a real pain to find music & video as there wasn't a very good mechanism to do so. We didn't provide a specific search for it, and using limits in the catalog, as I'm sure all of you know, can be confusing (what, students overlook "A-V materials?" Shocking!).
Furthermore, we have our music split up into two different material types, "MUSIC RCDG" and "MUSIC CD," and it's impossible to limit to two different material types with the WebOPAC interface. Now, the material types problems will be fixed when Marilyn completes her material type (format) label changes, but we still wanted to provide a more intuitive interface for music searching than just limiting/modifying a search.