project news and updates

Check this site frequently for updates about the effort to redesign the Stanford Libraries website and improve our Drupal-based web publishing environment.

Library Website Redesign News

Library preview site update

If you haven’t checked out the new Library Website recently, you should definitely visit and have a look around. The new site will become the Stanford Libraries default homepage in early September, in time for the start of Fall Quarter 2012.

The Online Experience Group has been steadily adding content to the site, with additional content added every week.
Highlights include:

· The “Using the Library” section of the site has plenty of fresh, user-tested content on topics such as “Borrow, Renew, Return” and “Connecting from Off-Campus”.
· Basic information pages for each of the branch and coordinate libraries with current hours, location, and accessibility information.
· Descriptions of over 50 Collections and 13 Projects.
· People pages for Subject Specialists and other staff under the About drop-down menu.
· Initial examples of Topic Guides, with many more to be developed over the summer.

All Stanford Libraries staff are encouraged to review the site and send Feedback.
We will post updates here of new content added each week.

Website training for People Pages

We're ready to start training for creating content on the new website!

You are invited to sign up for the first round of training on Tuesday, June 26; Wednesday, June 27; Monday, July 9; or Tuesday, July 10 all at 1:30 pm. You can sign up through Coursework for one of these hands-on sessions at: https://coursework.stanford.edu/portal/site/LibraryWebsiteTraining. Once you've joined the site, click on the sign up link in the lefthand menu. This training is especially IMPORTANT for all subject specialists.

This initial training will last 60-90 minutes, and will cover two main topics:
An overview of the Content Creation Guide for the new library site
Hands-on creation of a "people" page.

And of course, we'll leave plenty of time for Q&A as well!

Prior to the class, please make sure the following information is Public on your Stanford Who listing:
- First name
- Last name
- Work Phone
- Email

As the summer progresses, the Online Experience Group will be rolling out several additional types of content pages, including topic guides, collections pages, branch sites, and more.

Please note: If you have a guide that needs to be created for a fall class (PWR guides not included) we'd like to hear from you. Please send an email to online-experience-group@lists.stanford.edu.

Stay tuned for more training topics!

Guidelines for including documents, images, and video in web pages

The Web Redesign Team is working hard on the new website, especially the content creation environment and tools. We hope you are working on your web content, too--developing, editing, and refining the content you plan to publish on the new website’s subject guides, branch pages, and project pages.

We recommended some guidelines for Writing for the Web earlier to help you evaluate the clarity of your content’s message. But what about images, videos, or attached documents on your pages? Here are some guidelines to consider as you look at your content.

Guidelines for uploading documents to the library web environment

When moving content to the new website, you will need to follow the same guidelines established for capturing and sharing Everyday Electronic Materials (EEMs):

“In general, capturing and redistributing digital material is understood to be an act of distribution, which is an exclusive right of the copyright owner. Therefore, SULAIR must seek permission from the rights holder, unless the work is in the public domain or explicitly licensed for redistribution."

When in doubt, link to documents instead of uploading them.

Guidelines for uploading images and videos to the library web environment

The EEM’s guidelines apply to images and videos as well. You must receive permission from the rights holder unless the image or video is clearly in the public domain or explicitly licensed for redistribution.

Additionally, images and videos on the Stanford Libraries website must include attribution/credit information. The new content creation environment will include easy ways to include credit information for display, such as the hover text in this example.

If you’d like to include images or videos and Stanford Libraries is the rights holder, contact the appropriate SUL department to request a high-resolution copy and the appropriate text for credit attribution for each image or video.

Remember! When you are creating and editing your website content, make sure you have permissions and credit information for all the documents, images and videos that you plan to include!

What has the web redesign project been up to in the past three months?

Between January and March of this year the web redesign project took a small break in full-time engineering to focus attention on design work, bug fixing, user testing, and analyzing user feedback. The outcomes of this work have been positive, as we've learned a great deal from students, faculty and staff about how they would use the new site and whether or not it will help them successfully complete their most important tasks.  Many small and large improvements to librarypreview.stanford.edu have already been made, and continue to be added.

We have also completed initial design work on updated Subject Guide and Branch library templates.  Click the thumbnails below to see full-screen versions of these designs.

Branch Library Template Visual Design

Branch Library Template Visual Design
Subject Guide Template Visual Design
Subject Guide Template Visual Design

Starting in April, the web development team and Chapter Three have resumed full-scale development efforts to build out the subject guides and branch templates.  They are also investing considerable effort in making the web authoring experience both simple and feature-rich.

Expect more frequent updates here in April, May and June as progress is sure to accelerate. 

Writing for the web resources

The Online Experience Group is increasing its focus on enabling content creators to author clear, concise content for the new website. While an exact date is not yet set, technical developments are progressing at a pace that will soon allow content creators to access the site, update existing content and build new pages. In the spirit of laying “fresh eyes” on current content and developing good habits for continual content review and updating, we recommend the following e-resources on writing effective web content. It's never too early to review and revise content intended for the new site.

Redish, Janice (Ginny). Letting go of the words: writing Web content that works

Ginny Redish’s website also contains good information on writing fo the Web.

The US Government’s Plain Language website may sound like an oxymoron, but it provides guidelines for and examples of good, plain writing for a mass audience.

ALSO: The Online Experience Group is looking for an amateur photographer to join the Image Group. Please contact Mike Nack (mnack@stanford.edu) to learn more and to express your interest.

New Subject Guide design coming soon!

The Online Experience Group has been working hard on a proposed new design for subject guides. Subject guides are envisioned as tools to help users navigate a broad or specific subject area and to identify key SULAIR specialists.

We carefully considered how the website redesign would impact the many and varied subject guides. Based on user studies and subject specialist interviews, the proposed subject guide model is intended to provide maximum flexibility for providing content within a visually consistent, branded framework; and to support maximum ease in content creation, organization, and maintenance. The guide model strives for a simple, intuitive design, with support for media, automatic feeds, and custom design within a standard framework.

Six personas (user categories) were developed, each with specific needs. The new design intends to meet the needs of each of these user types:

1. The student in class: She needs to quickly find credible resources for an assignment, get an overview of a topic, become acquainted with key resources on the topic, familiarize herself with useful terminology, and access the desired item.

2. The novice: Similar to the student in class, the novice needs to get an overview of a topic, familiarize himself with both terminology and seminal works, learn how to find resources independently, learn about relevant student or faculty research projects and related campus resources, and identify the appropriate specialist for help.

3. The advanced learner: She needs to stay current on a topic by monitoring new library acquisitions lists and current journal tables of contents, learn about specialized or unique resources, and be able to identify the subject specialist for more help.

4. The Instructor: He needs to assist students in completing assignments and research projects, and to understand the usefulness of the guide and be able to contribute to its continued value.

5. The Content Creator: She needs to understand the usefulness of the guide, and assist her audience in completing their research or course-related tasks.

6. The World: They need to understand the scope of Stanford’s resources on a specific topic.

The initial response from a sampling of content creators has been very positive; your feedback is continually incorporated in communications with the designers, and is much appreciated! The new subject guide model will be posted very soon for your consideration. Stay tuned!

Tell us what you think!

Hello all!

This is just a friendly reminder that the new SULAIR website preview is available for your viewing pleasure! We have begun receiving valuable comments (libweb-feedback@lists.stanford.edu) which will inform our continued building-out of the site. We encourage the Stanford community to continue sending in requests, comments, complaints, questions, and praise. The feedback link may also be accessed on the preview site. Happy exploring!

Website Preview and Testing at the Library Open House

The new library website had a table at the Library Open House, at which we did some light-weight testing and previewed a live test site to visitors. It was a big success in that the table received approximately 50 visitors, 21 of which participated in the live test. The breakdown of testers included:
  • 10 undergraduates
  • 4 graduate/professional school
  • 3 lecturers/instructors/visiting scholars
  • 2 library staff
  • 2 other SU staff
Testers were directed to a laptop and asked to perform 3 to 5 common website tasks. Charles Kerns introduced the tasks and recorded whether or not it was successfully completed. All tests were recorded using Camtasia so we can replay them as videos and analyse how testers navigated the site to accomplish common tasks. The following is a list of some of the tasks we tested:
  • You want the email address of the head of media services in the library.
  • You need to know if you can renew a book online?
  • You need information about accessibility for a friend who is coming to the Art Library and uses a wheelchair.
  • What time does Green Library close?
  • How do you get to the Chemistry Library?
  • You need help with a really specialized research topic
  • You are working at home and trying to access a database. It asks for a password. What can you do?
  • You want a book that Stanford does not have?
  • You want access to the Monterey Jazz Festival Special Collection.
  • You need to know what citation management tools are available or supported?
  • You want to search the complete SULAIR site to see the different places that accessibility is discussed.
  • You need to find databases about women working in the United States?
  • You want to find out if there is a good place to study with a public computer near your classroom.
We tested on a total of 23 tasks and collected 107 data points recording whether or not users successfully accomplished the tasks on the new website. These data will help us continue to improve the website so that users can find answers and get excellent service quickly and easily. In addition to website testing, we displayed a rolling slideshow of the site designs and informed visitors that a new version of the library website is coming next year. Ellie Buckley and other members of the online experience group spent time at the table discussing the goals of the project and our process for developing a highly user-focussed site. The slideshow can be seen here: Kudos to Charles, Ellie and the rest of the Online Experience group for their big effort in organizing the table and a successful test.

New Visual Design - Hours & Locations

We are excited to share with you a preview of another section of the new library website. We are especially proud of the new look for Hours & Locations, which makes this critical information much more accessible to patrons. Moreover, this redesign leverages Drupal's content management function to provide library staff with a much simpler, more streamlined back-end process for gathering and displaying hours and location information. This redesigned page and workflow represents a massive work effort and is the result of collaboration among the Library Website Redesign Team, members of DLSS, and Chapter 3. The image below is a snapshot of the layout for this page (note, data shown is for display purposes only). As always, we welcome your feedback about this page.

Hours and Locations

On a related note, as we prepare for the website sneak preview in early November, the Online Experience Group will be contacting many of you soon for your assistance in providing content for various sections of the new site.

Library Website Development is Right on Schedule!

The work is divided into month-long "sprints". Sprints are intense work cycles in the Agile software development methodology. During these cycles, stakeholders and developers agree on priority tasks and functionality for each sprint.

Sprint 1 includes:
* getting the development website up and running
* implementing the website "theme"
* creating home, about, project, ask us, and search pages

Behind the scenes, a technical writer has been drafting and editing content needed for the website preview. DLSS developers have been working on integrating search technologies into the website, including a feed from Stanford Who to create "people" pages, and new and improved support for keeping library hours information up to date.

As each sprint is closed, members of the online experience group will lead a review of the work that has been done, to insure it meets requirements.

Traveling Road Show Update

The Online Experience Group has been busy reaching out to groups all across SULAIR to present exciting information about the website redesign project. In these hour-long visits, we have presented hot-off-the-press glimpses of the look and feel of the new design, sketches of new pages and functions, and the timeline of the work ahead. But most importantly, we have had the opportunity to discuss the redesign progress with interested library staff who have shared important insights, suggestions, and reactions.

In the past month, we have made 8 presentations to staff from over a dozen different units, with still more visits planned soon. If you or your unit would like us to visit you too, please contact us. We are very eager to share updates and hear your feedback!

Library Website Redesign - Traveling Road Show

We have been providing in-person updates to key library staff groups over the last several weeks. We are sharing with everyone the PowerPoint slides we have been using. The slides include a projected timeline for the project, as well as an overview of what staff who create and maintain content on the library website should be doing throughout the project. As always, we include a list of ways for library staff to remain actively engaged with the project

Website Redesign Update v3_cb.ppt912.5 KB

Page Templates for New Library Website

By now, you've seen the site map and the emerging visual design for the new site; these are like the foundation and the décor of a new house. Between these two layers, there's a lot of design work around creating the rooms, placing the windows, planning the traffic flow, etc. In a website project, that design work is represented in mockups or wireframes that define how the pages will be laid out, what content will be presented, and how the navigation will work.

The 30+ mockups in this PDF cover a representative set of page templates to allow Drupal development and content creation to begin. The designs are based on the user data we collected, and have been validated at several stages by user testing and reviews. We'll continue to validate (and modify) these designs as we build them into a functional site.

As always, your feedback is welcome - via email to online-experience-group@lists.stanford.edu, or the send us feedback form.

templates-forblog.pdf4.18 MB

Sneak Preview of New Library Website Visual Designs

We are excited to offer a preview of the emerging visual designs for the new library website. We have included a version of the home page and a sub-page (Ask Us) to give you a sense of the colors, font, layout and overall design aesthetic of the new site.

Keep in mind that these designs are in the early stages of development and -- importantly -- the text and labels in these designs are not by any means final.

We expect the designs to change as the Drupal site gets built and is populated with real library content. And of course we expect that continued user testing and feedback will help us create a clean, usable and, yes, attractive library website.

Information Architecture of the New Library Website

A critical step in the development of a large complex website is the definition of the information architecture. The information architecture defines the structure, hierarchy and navigational pathways of a website, and the major categories of content.

As part of the Library Website Redesign project we have developed a sitemap to represent the new site's information architecture. The sitemap is based on extensive user testing and feedback, a detailed content analysis of the current SULAIR web environment, and a series of card-sorting exercises.

This is a big step on the road to our new library website. Click the thumbnail below to view the sitemap.

sitemap-v2.2.jpg1.52 MB


Website designers often use personas to insure the design will meet users' needs. "A persona is a character sketch that represents a particular segment of the target audience," according to Steve Mulder, author of The User is Always Right: A Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web.

"With personas website designers can focus on how the website will be used instead of how the technology should work. Instead of asking how a feature should work, the designer can ask, 'What would Francis do?'"

Seven personas were developed to inform the Library Website Redesign. They include one undergraduate, two graduate students, two faculty, a librarian and a visitor.

For those interested, the detailed personas are below:

Name: Adeeb
Age: 20
Location: Stanford campus - Toyon Hall (undergrad housing)
Job Title: Sophomore
What types of activities do they do online: Social sites, gaming, movies/music, Google Scholar for research. Uses Coursework to post assignments, discuss with other students.
What types of activities compete for their time: Social activities, classes, study, iTunes, South Asian men’s chorus and tour.
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Look for practical information about the library (hours, study locations)
  • Find out where the Art Library is located and what does the Johnson Library does.Prints out map showing location of the libraries.
  • Goes to Art Library website.
  • Look for books on reserve for his class but he can only remember the instructors name and is not sure about how it is spelled.
  • Search for newspaper articles from his home town.
  • Look for an quick half page overview of a topic that that is mentioned in his textbook.
  • Search for book chapter related to a specific assignment or class (research guide, reserves)
  • Search to find 10 or 20 references on a topic for a 10 page paper assigned in a Humanities course.
  • Request help from a librarian at the front desks.
  • Look for the Subject Specialist Page for his humanities course.
  • Send an email to a librarian using the “ask us” form
  • Renew books (and related tasks - request an exception, find out how to return an item)
  • Pays fine for overdue book.
  • Look for a DVD to watch with friends

Name: Keiko
Age: 28
Location: Stanford campus - Escondido Village (graduate housing)
Job Title: Humanities doctoral student
What types of activities do they do online: Monitor websites of journals and organizations in her area of study. Google Scholar; Google Books. RefWorks to manage citations & bibliographies. Coursework to interact with her undergrads. Social sites in her free time. Facebook, twitter.
What types of activities compete for their time: Attends lectures; works as TA for two undergrad introductory classes. Exercise. Boyfriend.
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Find primary sources (pictures from the archives, manuscript - original item); use advanced search
  • Finds out how many books she has out and when they are due. Renews them.
  • Do exhaustive searches for journal articles on her dissertation topic to find all academic articles ever written about it.
  • Search for dissertations from Stanford and other universities.
  • Find journal articles by typing in citations that she has pulled from other articles’ footnotes.
  • Find the most current articles on a given topic.
  • Request materials that Stanford doesn't own (inter-library loan) (filling out a form)
  • Request research assistance from a subject librarian either through the main site or one of the branch site or through a subject page
  • Find out who the subject specialist librarian is in her field and ask her in online chat for appointment to discuss access to an archive in Spain that she needs to visit.
  • Access commercial databases: find out if Stanford subscribes to a specific database; look for help with connecting (after they’ve already gained access the first time.... visit help page)
  • Apply for a dissertation room (fills out a form to reserve a study room. ends up on a waiting list)

Name: Frank
Age: 28
Location: Stanford campus - Escondido Village (graduate housing)
Job Title: Interdisciplinary Science and Social Science doctoral student
What types of activities do they do online: Monitor websites of journals and organizations in his area of study. Google Scholar; Google Books. RefWorks to manage citations & bibliographies. Review maps and GPS info for field studies, Coursework to interact with her undergrads. Social sites in his free time. twitter.
What types of activities compete for their time: Skis; works as TA for two undergrad introductory classes. Exercise. Girlfriend.
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Search for information about research procedures used in his field.
  • Search for data sets to use in his research.
  • Search for maps and GIS info that he will use in his dissertation.
  • Do exhaustive searches for journal articles on his dissertation topic to find all academic articles ever written about it.
  • Find the most current articles on a given topic, or for a specific citation
  • Request materials that Stanford doesn't own (inter-library loan) (filling out a form)
  • Request research assistance from a subject librarian either through the main site or one of the branch site or through a subject page.
  • Identify relevent commercial databases: find out if Stanford subscribes to a specific database; look for help with connecting (after they’ve already gained access the first time.... visit help page)

Name: Christine
Age: 38
Location: Live in the CORC. Works at Sweet Hall
Job Title: PWR(Program on Writing and Rhetoric) Instructor
What types of activities do they do online: Manages her course using Coursework (online course management)(non-Drupal external system), searching the web for examples/resources (non-library specific), blogging & social sites (professional & personal), RefWorks to manage citations.
What types of activities compete for their time: Teaching, continuing research in her area in order to publish more, searching for a tenure track job, meeting with students, doing her own research & writing. Yoga. Family. Nice dog.
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Search for materials to support her instruction including other syllabi, images, books, websites, videos
  • Contact librarians for help finding materials (subject librarians - through email)
  • Request materials that Stanford doesn't own
  • Place materials on reserve for a class (form)
  • Finds out about the exhibition at Green Library on Mexican political cartoons.
  • Creates or updates her course guide.
  • Follows link to Academic Computing to find out what is happening with the specialist who is supporting her in her teaching.

Name: Rozik
Age: 38
Location: Has office at home in Palo Alto, a startup and one in a campus building.
Job Title: Faculty Member
What types of activities do they do online: Checking on his courses using Coursework (online course management)(non-Drupal external system), emailing to faculty colleagues in other schools, writing articles for publication on Word, peer-reviewing articles for journals..
What types of activities compete for their time: Writing recommendations, going to conferences, on the board of two startups, interviewing applicants for new faculty position, sitting on two campus committees that meet monthly, meeting with students..Children in college.
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Suggest book orders
  • Communicate with librarian about important new materials coming out in their field
  • Request materials that Stanford doesn't own
  • Oversee the teaching assistants as they set up course reserves
  • Read latest issue of important journals in his field.
  • Follow link to Hiwire Press to see about a journal for which he is on the board.

Name: Diane
Age: 40-something
Location: Stanford campus - Green Library
Lives: Sunnyvale
Job Title: Librarian
What types of activities do they do online: research to answer specific questions, find websites, contacts, etc.
What types of activities compete for their time: Responding to questions in person, or by phone/email/IM. Attending meetings. commuting, genealogy,
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Search for answers to reference questions
  • Demonstrate to students how to use the site
  • Refer patrons (by phone, email, etc.) to pages that answer their questions
  • Find the library staff or department to handle a specific question
  • Create content
    • Post reference question Q&As on infocenter.stanford.edu
    • Create research guides for classes or topics
    • Describe specific collection areas for researchers

Name: Javier
Age: unknown
Location: Redwood City
Job Title: “Visitor
What types of activities do they do online: web research (they will typically have arrived at the site by finding a specific resource at Stanford via Google)
What types of activities compete for their time: unknown
What activity would they perform on your site?

  • Can I use the Stanford library? When is it open? How do I get there? Where is the closest parking? Can I get into the stacks?
  • I'm not a Stanford student, but you have this resource I need. Can you photocopy/scan it for me?

Website Redesign High-Level Goals

The SULAIR Website Redesign Project has officially kicked off! The project team is excited to be working with web consultants, Chapter Three, on the first big step--developing a detailed workplan for rolling out a new library website by Fall 2011. To help focus the project, we have developed the following high-level goals:

Website Redesign High-Level Goals

  1. Increase usage of the library website by Stanford scholars.
  2. Enable Stanford students, faculty, and others to discover and access relevant and timely information, resources, and library services.
  3. Convey the depth, breadth, and uniqueness of our collections and services.
  4. Establish the SULAIR website as a gateway for tools needed for deep scholarly engagement.
  5. Promote a strong, unified, coherent identity for SULAIR, establishing our website as an exemplar that binds the main library system, the branches, and enterprises, while acknowledging the uniqueness of individual units.
  6. Inspire support for SULAIR and its many activities among Stanford scholars, alumni and other donors.
  7. Make content creation and maintenance significantly easier for library staff.
  8. Commit to long-term website improvements through usability testing, web traffic analysis, and user feedback.

As always, we welcome your feedback on this important and exciting effort to improve our web presence.

Library Website Redesign Project Kickoff Announcement

We are pleased to share the news that we have selected Chapter Three as a partner for the Library Website Redesign Project. Chapter Three is a "local" (San Francisco) company with Stanford experience, and a managing partner who is a librarian! They have a deep understanding of what we do.

The Library Website Project will include:

  • Redesign of the Library Homepage,
  • Improvements to our existing Drupal environment,
  • Development of new templates and workflows for Subject Pages, Branch Pages, Administrative Pages, and Exhibit Pages
  • Development of a plan and tools for migrating existing pages (DreamWeaver and Drupal) to the new environment
  • Training on using the new tools and environments

This is an exciting and ambitious project that will require focused collaboration from most of us. We have formed the following project team to track the project schedule, liaise with the vendor and to work with SULAIR stakeholders in a variety of ways throughout the project:

Project Manager:
Katherine Kott (DLSS)

Technical Team:
Stu Snydman (Technical Lead, DLSS)
Jessie Keck, Jon Lavigne, Jennifer Vine and Lee Reilly (DLSS)

Online Experience Group:
Chris Bourg (Group Chair, AUL for Public Services)
John Bickar (Cubberley Education Library)
Ellie Buckley (DIG, Assessment Librarian)
Sara Lester (Engineering Library)
Rebecca Pernell (Head, Access Services)
Stu Snydman (DLSS)
Jennifer Vine (DLSS)

Chapter Three:
Technical development, website design, content migration, training, etc.

Once the project is officially launched (early next month) we will report project progress regularly through updates in this blog and SULAIR news. The Online Experience Group will also be regularly calling upon web content creators and page owners to participate in content inventories, functional requirements development, assessment and testing, content migration, and training evaluation.

As always, we welcome your questions and suggestions to make this important project a resounding SULAIR success! Please send your questions/comments to online-experience-group@lists.stanford.edu.

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