Monday, January 21, 2008

New Watzek Library web site

Over winter break, I worked a fair amount on coding a revised version of Watzek Library's website. Much of the credit goes to Jeff Allman over at Boley Law Library, Jeremy McWilliams, as well as our web site team, who provided helpful criticism.

Basically, I was living in CSS hell for awhile, but it was sort of enjoyable to immerse myself in a technology project and leave some of my other responsibilities on hold. The new version uses more modern, semantically correct code and has some new features, which are pretty typical on many library web sites now:
  • a search widget (home and interior pages)
  • a promotional news space (home page)
  • an area to highlight new acquisitions (home page)
We consciously took an incremental approach to redesigning the site for a few reasons:
  • an upcoming College-wide redesign might encourage us to go in a new direction sometime soon
  • we could preserve navigational consistency for our users
  • sticking with existing colors and fonts wouldn't force us to re-style all of our applications (though this might be a good exercise in consolidation of stylesheets, etc.).
Next up is a facelift of some of the content on the interior pages of the site.

I've been sort of out of the web design arena for awhile, and it's amazing how much more you can do with just CSS than you could 5 years ago.

The articles tab on the search widget is our first foray into federated searching. It needs work.

Our technology stack for the site consists of:
  • RedHat Enterprise Linux on a virtual server
  • Apache
  • PHP 5.x
  • PostgreSQL and MySQL
  • JQuery (for tabs and various ajaxy effects)
  • Dreamweaver/Contribute templates

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