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Help us make the LIS website better!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

We’re temporarily adding pop-up surveys to four of our main web pages. Not everyone will see a survey, but if you are one of the lucky chosen ones, we urge you please to say “yes” and share your feedback. If you do, at the end of your use of the selected page, you’ll be asked 5 short questions – really basic stuff like “What were looking for?”, “Did you find it?” with a chance to tell us what you hoped to find if you didn’t!

The pages we’re checking are go/lis  go/lib  go/helpdesk and go/ct

Thank you for your help. The results of this and other user needs analysis activities (UNA) will be shared with LIS in a future posting.

The LIS Website Team.

LibX updated to include Summon searching

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Middlebury’s version of the LibX browser extension has been edited so that it can now be used to search Summon.  LibX provides:

  • Toolbar & right-click context menu: Search your library catalog directly from the LibX toolbar or using the right-click context menu.
  • Support for off-campus access via EZProxy/WAM: Using the Library’s off-campus proxy, you may reload a page through the proxy, or follow a link via the proxy, making it appear as though you are coming from an on-campus computer.
  • Quick full text access to journal articles: LibX uses Google Scholar to search for articles and directs the user to the electronic copy subscribed to by your Library. Select a citation, then drag-and-drop it onto the Scholar button on the toolbar. You can use this feature even from inside a PDF file, which makes retrieving papers referenced in a PDF file a snap.
  • Support for embedded cues: LibX places cues in web pages you visit if your library has resources related to that page. Whenever you see the cue, click on the link to look at what the Library has to offer. For instance, book pages at Amazon or Barnes & Noble will contain cues that link to the book’s entry in Midcat. Cues are displayed at Google, Yahoo! Search, the NY Times Book Review, and other pages.

Weekly Web Development Round-up June 12-17, 2011

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

To give our colleagues a better idea of what’s changed in our web applications each week, we’ll be preparing this quick list for publication each Friday. Not all of the details of each change are included below, but we’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have in the comments.

Campus Map

  • Since last week’s post, we’ve added:
    • custom marker icons
    • course listings for locations
    • custom location categories like “parking lots”
    • autozoom and autocenter the map on available markers
  • You can read more about the Campus Map project in this earlier post on the LIS blog.

Course Hub

  • The Add Resource button now works in IE 7.

Drupal

  • We’re testing out a new spam prevention module on the Ask a Librarian form that block spam bots without annoying actual humans. It does this by adding some hidden fields to the form that trip up automated spammers. If you’d like to have this added to your form, just let us know.

Library Systems

  • Work continues on Summon.  Latest links into the Drupal platform include the search widget on the LIS main page (go/lis) where there was previously only a text link, and a proliferation of simple sidebar widgets on the Library pages.
  • SubjectsPlus interface alterations to reflects the change from WebBridge to 360 as our OpenURL link resolver in the Summon implementation.

Search

When we launched the new version of our website, we put in place a search strategy that would automatically forward you to a page if we were reasonably sure that the page was where you wanted to end up. For example, if you searched for “academic calendar”, you’d end up on the page with the current year’s academic calendar instead of a search results page. The way we made this work is to automatically forward you to the GO shortcut if your search matched an existing GO shortcut. So, if go/dining exists and you search for “dining” you go to the site that go/dining points at.

At the time we set this up, the GO database contained around 1,000 entries, mostly redirects to academic departments, offices, programs, or local government or non-profit organizations. GO was a self-service application at that time, but wasn’t often used by students, faculty and staff to create shortcuts.

There are now 4321 GO shortcuts in the database, including aliases. People use it to get the word out about their events (go/justice, go/bachfest), faculty create shortcuts to their course sites (go/chns0475), staff create quick links to advertise new services (go/getoffice), and many other great uses that make us glad this is a self-service application.

At the same time, there are now many GO shortcuts that are links to YouTube videos, other colleges, personal websites, and some that are just jokes. These are, generally, fine to have in the GO database. Even the first version of GO (at the time called the External Redirection Application) in 2005 had a few “easter eggs” that are still there. But because of how our search application interacted with GO, people’s ability to quickly and easily find information on our site was getting hampered by these “un-official” shortcuts.

We’ve now changed the search programming on our site so that it will only forward you automatically for a small subset of search terms. You’ll still go right to WebMail when you search for “webmail”, and similarly for “bannerweb” or “cso”, or “ccal”. But if you search for “chicago” you’ll now see search results instead of the Chicago Manual of Style. We used these criteria to select which search terms would continue to automatically forward you:

  1. It is something someone might search for (i.e. bannerweb, but not bannerweb?ugapp).
  2. It goes to a page on our site (i.e. capp, but not campusstorage).
  3. There’s really only one page that the person means by that search (i.e. chaplain, but not chicago).

New GO shortcuts will initially be excluded from being used in search, but we’ll continue to review the list and change it as needed. We’ll also review statistics from searches on our site to see if new shortcuts need to be created or if we need to make an existing shortcut searchable again.

A few additional notes:

  • We haven’t deleted any GO shortcuts today. go/bacon, go/engage, and go/oooooal still exist, but if you search for “bacon” you’ll now see more information about Sir Francis than images of meat.
  • You can send a note to go@middlebury.edu if you feel that a code that currently isn’t being used as a search result redirect ought to be. You can also flag GO shortcuts as inappropriate.
  • We’ve added a filter for “GO” to the search results page just below “www.middlebury.edu” on the right. Click on that box to filter your search results to only show pages from go.middlebury.edu.

And lastly, a reminder that when you (as a person with a Middlebury account) create shortcuts in GO, or comment on blogs on this site, or edit our wiki, you are bound by the College Handbook policies on Responsible Use of Computing Network Service and Facilities, Anti-Harassment Policy, and any other applicable policies from our Handbook. Though we’ve deleted a couple GO shortcuts in the past for being inappropriate, none have yet been referred to HR, Commons Administration or the Dean of Faculty, but logs are kept on the service and that option is always available.

WordPress

  • The embedded Flash audio player that you see in IE 7, IE 8, Firefox and Opera now renders correctly and allows you to play the audio file.
  • Many CSS fixes were made to the Translucence theme.

Are you reading this post via a feed reader? If so, read on…

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

On Tuesday May 31st we’re going to change the categories on this blog, so if by any chance you’re using a feed of a specific category, that’s going to break. We suggest subscribing to the whole blog for maximum enjoyment! If you’re not a LIS staff member & would like to filter out the more staff related posts, you can subscribe to the new “Middlebury Community Interest” category after May 31st. The other categories will be “LIS Staff Interest”, and “Post for MiddPoints” which will cause the post to be added to the MiddPoints blog too. All the old categories except “The Essentials” will be converted to tags for easy searching.
The LIS Web team developed this new scheme, following recommendations that came out of the open meeting about the future of the LIS Blog (including a call for simplified categories). The AD Team reviewed and approved these changes. We welcome your comments.

Today’s Hours now displaying on LIS websites!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Users can now see today’s hours from the LIS web pages. The “All Hours” link takes users to the full Google Calendar, which has a pull-down menu for the various service points. More locations will be added in the coming days. Special thanks to the LIS Website Team, Carrie, and Ian for making this happen!

LIS site improvements since usability testing

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Soon after the launch of the new Middlebury web site, the LIS website team conducted usability testing on the LIS parts of the site (see report 1, report 2). Many improvements have been made based on the feedback received during testing. Since part of the Team’s charge for this year included following-up on these recommendations, we thought it best to share some of the highlights. These changes were made with the help of many content managers and website editors; we thank you for your contributions!:

  • improved Google search has recently been implemented on the whole Middlebury site, which has already made searching for LIS content much easier
  • improved directory search results, so search “by department” displays the job titles for all members of the department. For example, the listing for all LIS staff
  • site banners that currently say “Library and Information Services” will soon display additional text for clearer branding of the different LIS website sections
  • quick links navigation items are now standardized across all parts of the LIS web presence
  • better color use in the “leaf” color theme for improved legibility
  • templates for the LIS blog that align with the Drupal site, with new design options for the LIS wiki in progress
  • on-page search boxes for pages that include sub-page lists is now labeled “Find on this page:” to distinguish from site-wide search boxes
  • added links to check ILL requests in My MIDCAT

Remember, there’s also an option for anyone to report issues with a page using the Problems with this Page? button, and you can get in touch with LIS Content Managers by finding them at go/liscm.

What’s next? We’re moving on from following-up on the old recommendations to working on marketing strategies for the site, and soon afterward, another round of testing, likely in the form of a user needs analysis and more usability testing. Feel free to send us feedback any time. Thanks!

Issue with HTML Emails for Webforms in Drupal Resolved

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Last Thursday I got a notice about the module that sends HTML emails for our website was no longer supported and an upgraded version was available. I installed the new version of the module and its supporting modules, tested submitting a form, got an email response that looked appropriate and upgraded our live servers to use the new version of the module.

Unfortunately, the new version did not work on the production servers. I’ve spent about 20 hours since then trying to figure out why that is the case, but was unable to come up with a solution. Instead, I’ve switched to using another module which is more widely supported. After some issues testing that, and some bug fixes to the Webform module to make them play nice together, emails should now be working as they were prior to Thursday.

If you notice any continued issues with emails from our website, please let me know.

If you want, you can re-send your form’s emails. Click “View submissions” below the form, then click the “View” link next to any submission and you’ll see a link labelled “Re-send emails”.

I’m truly sorry that this issue occurred. I was able to use this opportunity to bring our development and production systems closer to having the same configuration which should help prevent similar errors from happening in the future. As always, I welcome any questions you might have.