Wednesday, October 12, 2011

O, brave new world...

Today, the Lake Land Library website was relaunched in its new form - based on a content management system (or CMS), rather than just HTML pages. Our ISS department has been working on this changeover now for some time, which was a lot more difficult than they had anticipated when they launched the project. I think that this was from the depth of the website, as well as the complexity of the content presented on certain pages.

The change presents certain advantages. It is easier to manage some of the content of the pages now, as the content is database-driven (making it easier to add the the list of new library databases and remove entries for old ones we no longer subscribe to, for instance). The new pages will have a more uniform appearance which will be more consistent with the rest of the College site (without our having to worry over whether we have all the right image files, style sheets, etc). And actually editing some parts of the site will be much easier now, as the editing is essentially done in plain text and then converted into the proper form by the CMS.

However, like most advances, it has its drawbacks, too. Some parts of the site can no longer be edited by us. We must send in our changes and wait for the edits to be done for us. Not so much of an issue for site boilerplate, but a very real concern when that content is critical. Some will say that the very homogeneous nature of the pages are a drawback, so that some content does not stand out from other. Probably more bothersome in thought than in execution (I hope) is that the address of the site is different now. Rather than mentioning "library" in the address, as we have become accustomed to, the new organizational structure of the College pages will dictate a different approach.
Thus, http://www.lakelandcollege.edu/library morphs into
http://www.lakelandcollege.edu/as/ls/ .

However, there will continue to be links on the College home page that will read "Library", and the old address will be automatically redirected for a while yet. This addressing scheme makes perfect sense from an organizational structure point of view; however, it is certainly not terribly intuitive for most folks.

We have already experienced a problem in an area we can't edit - one dealing with citation formatting, so it's an important thing. We knew this could happen, as this is one of the hardest areas of the old site to translate, but it is still troubling. Kind of like driving your new car off the lot and discovering that the transmission is a little balky on the way home. Fixable, but not the way you want to start off with something new.

Song of the day: Changes by David Bowie