Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Front Page Carousel

Today I altered our Front Page Carousel to access a new Content Type.

Basically, we wanted to be able to enter titles and book jackets from NextReads and have them appear on the Carousel, linking to the Catalog record.

Here's how we accomplished this:

Create a Content Type called NextReads, with a Title field and an Image field that links to the Catalog.

The problem here was the Image type in CCK doesn't link to external websites without downloading and enabling a module called LinkImageField. Once I did that and configured the Image type properly, everything worked well except the default URL wouldn't show up.

Create a View that uses Nodequeue and View Carousel to display Content Type

In this case, I cloned the existing Front Page Carousel View that was accessing just an image and altered it for the new content type. The only trouble I see in the future is I'm not sure if I can delete the old view without deleting the cloned view.

Add a new Queue in Nodequeue that points to the NextReads content type

Be sure to reference the correct queue in your View. Also, be sure to add an "add" and "remove" link for the content type.

Populate the content type with NextReads content

Right now I will likely have users upload a Book Jacket from the Catalog by saving it to their computer first. We may then need to go in by hand and edit the image to provide a drop shadow and make sure it looks nice. This will be part of the Workflow for that content type.

Users will also need to copy the URL in the URL Description and paste it into the URL field and add the ISBN at the end of it, until I can figure out why the default URL isn't showing up in the form.

We'll need to create a NextReads role and test user to make sure this all goes smoothly. I'll also need to officially document the procedure for users.

BUT, at least it works! Except the View Carousel doesn't really scroll...

Usability Test #2 - Patrons and Staff

We conducted our second usability study on Wednesday, October 7. Everything went very smoothly. The major issues we noticed were:

  1. The links on our sidebars are hard to read. The font is not dark enough and the link colors don't contrast enough.

  2. The term "PPLD Downloads" is not a good substitute for the term "eBranch". I'm not sure what we're going to do about this. I may just give up and continue to name the service "eBranch". Sigh.

  3. The term "Community" means different things to different people. I changed the name to "Local Information" to see if it's more obvious what is contained therein.

There were a few additional minor changes made that I won't mention here. Overall, the studies were very beneficial to the redesign. If you are deciding to usability studies, but aren't sure if the effort is worth it, do it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mobile Library Services

The Mobile Library Services page is done, including a massive Google Map that will need to be changed depending on time of year.

We're also ready for our Usability Testing tomorrow.

Development/Production Environment - Redux

After some discussion with our consultants and server administrator, we have the following ideas for implementing a development/production environment and version control:

Development/Production Environment
We plan to set up a virtual server that mirrors the production server and do our testing and development on that platform. When tests/development are completed and ready for production, at this point we plan to recreate the changes on the live site by hand.

We plan to use the Backup/Migrate module to attempt to keep the correct version of our live database backed-up and consistant with our development database. I'm not sure how this will work yet. We may call a halt on data entry on the live site when we're ready to move development work to the production server.

Version Control
We plan to try out Subversion and see if it does what we need for our situation. Being a small shop, I suspect it may be overkill, especially since it is completely new to us and seems to have a steep learning curve. However, our consultants had this to say about our concerns:

Yes, Subversion can help coordinate changes among multiple developers, but the main reasons we recommend it (or any version control system) are valuable even for a team of one:

1) revision tracking, and
2) ease of moving changes from development to staging to production servers

Number 1 will give you the ability to rollback changes, but it also inherently backs up your site files (complementing a database backup system) and gives you an analysis tool if you need to sort things out. Number 2 is quite valuable even thought it only handles the files aspect of your site, not the configuration.

So we'll give Subversion a try, which means we'll need to subscribe to a svn repository as well.

Wish us luck...