Thursday, May 17, 2007

IUG 2007 – WWWOptions, WebPub and new screens, oh my! OPAC redesign for 2006 and WebPAC Pro

Aimee Fifarek of the Scottsdale Public Library made this presenation.

This program began with some in depth, html rich, slides that describe the initial set up for WebPAC Pro. The first thing she showed us was how to use the style sheets to customize the appearance and content of the tabs, both main tabs and help page tabs. She noted that the naming convention for different tabs (active and inactive and appearance and content) differ which can be confusing if you’re not aware of it. There are some small but important changes that need to be made in order for the pages to appear properly in IE7.

Some of this was not terribly useful for me since I don’t actually design or work on our library web site. But I am on the Information Architecture Working Group at my library which is charged with creating the architecture (structure) of our new web site. The confusing thing is that the web site is different from the OPAC. The OPAC is usually embedded in the overall library web site and, up to now, typically the OPAC was designed (colors, fonts, etc.) based on the web site but we’re finding that we’re starting by designing (customizing) our OPAC using WebPAC Pro and then applying that design (and the style sheets underlying it) to the rest of the web site.

Most of Aimee’s power point slides include a citation to a page in the manual. It was interesting that she made a point to mention that the manual was actually pretty helpful for the functions she’s talking about (apparently this is not always the case).

But the really cool thing about WebPAC Pro are the options that you can install once you’re installed it. They include inbound and outbound RSS feeds, a spell checker, and the ability to allow library users to write their own reviews of items in the collection (some of the things that Mark Strang talked about in his session, Enhancing the Virtual Catalog Experience. Unfortunately, these were the things that I was really interested in hearing more about, particularly if and how they are using them but she didn’t spend much time on them.

In response to a question from the audience, Aimee made the point that users are used to rapid change and web development. The library web page is not a reference book, it’s not static, and most users are going to expect to see changes (improvements) there from time to time. I would add that, in keeping with the whole user-centered design movement, the ‘gurus’ all agree that one of the benefits of including the user in an iterative design process gives them the impression that the library cares about their opinions and needs and responds to them.

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