Thursday, June 25, 2009

Subject Guides: Bigger, Longer & Uncut

I presented the current new website to PPLD's Management Team this past Monday. They were very happy with it, except for one concern. When I was showing the Subject Guides, someone mentioned that having the tabbed menus above the header made it difficult to figure out the tabbed menus were actually for each subject guide. At first I was skeptical, but I checked with a few other staff and they were confused by that as well.

The problem here is that I was using Page Views with arguments for the subject guides and couldn't insert the tabbed menu below the header and above the content (that I know of, anyways). So in order to fix this issue, I had to completely redo the subject guides from scratch.

Phase 1:

  1. Made Block Displays for each subject guide category in Databases View

  2. Cloned Databases View to make Recommended Websites View

  3. Made changes as needed in Recommended Websites View

Phase 2:

  1. Created a Page for each category and category type

  2. Assigned these pages to their corresponding Blocks

  3. Changed pages in corresponding tabbed menu blocks

  4. Added pages to Research subnav block and removed old page links

  5. Assigned Blocks to proper region and lined them up appropriately

  6. Changed links in corresponding tabbed menus

  7. Changed links in Subject Guide page

Aside from a few exceptions, this ended up working pretty well. I hope this is the last time I have to do this...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How Do I?

I just finished the "How Do I?" pull-down list on the home page of the new website. I started off thinking I would use an exposed filter in a View and somehow link to taxonomy terms or a specific content type. As I went through this relatively complicated process, I started to realize this at best was making the process way too difficult, and at worst wouldn't do exactly what I wanted.

In the end, I used Douglas County Libraries and Jackson District Library as examples. They both used a form with a pull-down list and an 'onChange' JavaScript command. Since I'm just linking to pages, I'm not even going to use taxonomy or a content type for the information. I'm just going to link directly to the pages.

The neat thing I learned while screwing around with exposed filters in Views, is that you can change "Exposed form in block" to "Yes" in Basic Settings and the exposed filter will show up as a block (NOTE: the exposed filter doesn't show up in the View anymore). This may come in handy for the Branch Locator.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Subject Guides, the Final Showdown

Finally, with help from Growing Venture Solutions (GVS), I figured out how to get my subject guide menus to tab. Here's what I did:

  1. Go to any page content type, log in as admin, and use FireBug to track down the style for the edit tabs. In this case, it was the "ul.primary" classes in tabs.css of the Zen theme.

  2. Go to a subject guide and using FireBug narrow down the specific class of the menu style. In this case, I decided to use the ".region-content_top .menu" classes, as all my menus were in the Content Top region and no non-tabbed menus are utilized in that region.

  3. Copy the "ul.primary" classes from tabs.css and paste into your custom theme's main css file. Substitute ".region-content_top .menu" for "ul.primary" and update other sub-classes as necessary.

  4. Copy tab images from Zen/images directory and paste in custom theme's image directory.

This sounds easier than it was to actually accomplish. It definitely took some trial and error on my part to settle everything down, especially with the sub-classes. It's still not perfect, but I pretty happy with the results for the time being.

Now on to the "How Do I?" pull-down menu!

And the winner is... Google Analytics!

After a long, drawn-out analytics software solution process, we have finally made our decision to go with Google Analytics as our web statistics solution. Google Analytics is much more robust than we originally thought and pretty much does everything we need, for FREE!

The other contender was WebTrends, a company that seems to specialize in very large commerce sites. While it seemed we could do all kinds of cool things with this software, the expense and difficulty configuring the software made us think again.

We are very happy with Google Analytics, and are even happier that the process is over!