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Weekly Updates

By Brian Egan on October 29, 2009 3:50 PM | Permalink

While they may be trite and self-helpy, I’ve always enjoyed the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. One habit I find particularly useful is the seventh: Sharpening the Saw. The basic principle is that one must continually strive for improvement in a variety of areas in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. When applied to our web site, sharpening the saw means continually improving the look and functionality of our site to maintain a great site for our patrons.

We do this with larger-scale projects, such as enhancing our digital collections with dmBridge or the updating the home page and website template. It is just as important that we focus on smaller improvements as well as large. Smaller updates include improving the look of our maps, updating older looking pages to reflect our new template, or simply modifying the text on a page to be more accessible for screen readers.

These updates may not be as noticeable or glamorous, but it is crucial we continue to make these small improvements. We made a very good start with the latest template change, but there are still a lot of areas with room for improvement. Much of our site doesn’t quite conform to the style guide, which gives our site a piecemeal feel at times. Furthermore, our site used to be extremely difficult for screen readers to interpret. I’ve tried to simplify the code of our web site a great deal to aid this, but if text isn’t formatted correctly, that can pose a major challenge to those with disabilities. With the latest update, we created a new style for menus, and some menus still don’t quite conform to that style. Finally, there are just some things that are ugly and should be fixed.

And that’s the purpose of my weekly updates. I maintain a running list of pages that I’d like to improve, select two each week, and update the pages. So far, I’ve made a few changes, such as overhauling our directions page (old version), updating the EZProxy pages (also improved error feedback), made minor text updates to the circ pages and faculty FAQ, and converted a number of old menus into the new style.

All of this should help our site shape up a bit, and hopefully bring about a more coherent, user-friendly experience for our patrons.

The following is my current list of “To-updates.” If you would like WDS to take a look at any of your pages, please let us know in the comments section or by sending us an email! I try to scour the website for sources of improvement, but hey, I’m only human. Furthermore, I always welcome critical feedback if you don’t like something I’ve done.

  1. Serial Solutions Journal Titles Search – Bug in Internet Explorer that needs fixins
  2. /about/history.html
  3. /nvlasvegas/index.html
  4. The Calendars (pretty ugly right now)
  5. /webforms/work_request.html – some slight display bugs in various browsers
  6. Singapore Resources (update do new menu style)
  7. Minify and Compress CSS/JavaScript (this is a technical one, but will greatly speed up the site for users with slower connections)
  8. Create sprites to reduce image calls (another techy one)
  9. /about/dropboxes.html
  10. ILLiad

As I’ve said, this is my current running list in which I’m constantly adding and checking off items. Please let me know if you’d like your page/site/folder/application added to the list, and lets keep striving for a better website!


Submitted by myunkin on
Thanks for this, Brian. To me, making incremental updates and improvements is one of the key things that needs to be done, but that gets pushed aside too often in favor of large projects. Currently, the CML is a good example. Even if we weren't doing the Drupal thing with the CML site, it would at this point need a complete overhaul anyway because of the amount of outdated material there that hasn't been looked at since Patrick's exit. This isn't anyone's fault since there's been no one to work on it, but it is an excellent example of "page rot" -- the gradual decline in content quality due to neglect. It's an ongoing problem on the site, and one that the adoption of Drupal will make easier to address, but that will never really go away.
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