At long last, my university IT Department is gearing up to initiate campus-wide migration of all websites to SharePoint. This includes the library’s website.
Say what? SharePoint for a public-facing library website?
I’ll admit, I was fairly incredulous about this concept and continue to wonder how it will play out. This is a Microsoft product after all. But the experimental nature of the idea intrigues me, and I’m actually looking forward to it. Alot of this excitement, of course, also arises from our current CMS conundrum. You see, we’re on Serena Collage, perhaps one of the clunkiest content management systems still in operation…In fact, that’s the problem, it’s not really supported anymore. Fact is, it often doesn’t work at all.
So, I’m excited about getting out of Collage. And, I’m coming around to SharePoint as well…kind of.
Much of my remaining hesitation stems from not knowing how this will all work. Case in point, my team currently has access to the server, where we can do a fair amount of development, despite Collage’s problems. It remains unclear exactly how much access to the server we will have in the future to do the kinds of web service development that we’re accustomed to.
But, let’s focus on what is known…and it’s much to be happy about. SharePoint has a pretty good governance structure to it, which will allow our library to assign sections of the site to curators responsible for keeping information up to date, while allowing me to keep on top of what they’re doing. There are other features that I’m extremely happy about:
- multiple instance of blogs
- on-the-fly database creation
- intranet capabilities
Another cool aspect of this migration is that, as far as I can tell, no other library has used SharePoint as its public site’s CMS. Think journal articles and presentations here. I like that…
So, as you can imagine, there is quite a bit of activity at the library right now. We’ve got until the summer before the migration begins. In the meantime, I’m working on cleaning up our site as much as possible so that we get rid of the clutter and worst usability issues. My sense is that once we begin working with IT, there won’t be much bandwidth for working out a whole new architecture. I’ll have to come back to that later on my own. But I am using some Google Analytics and Crazy Egg data to help re-architect some areas of the site, particularly the unwieldy Special Collections areas ahead of the migration…as sort of site weeding if you will.
As such, my plan post migration is to do immediate user testing, followed up by iteration, more testing and then iteration. We’ll keep that up until we get where we need to be.
Along the way, I plan on keeping a few channels open to our stakeholders, essentially following the model established by the North Carolina State University’s Library redesign project…namely by creating a Web Advisory Committee composed of librarians from across our organization, focused librarian interview sessions and also through a public blog aimed at the university stakeholders. But I’ll also add commentary here when appropriate.
Wish us luck!