We are about to start redesigning our library website. At the same time I want to rework the technical basis of the site.
Currently the site is static html. I want to separate presentation from data, as well as making it easy to update for the staff responsible for the data. The kind of thing I’m thinking about is that the staff who change the opening hours on the notice board, should also change them web. However, I don’t think they should need to know html to do this.
I’m also interested in the possibility of some new technologies such as blogs and wikis. Obviously a blog might be great for news (with an rss of course), and a wiki might be a way of providing faq type answers to our users (and even get their input to the faqs)
Anyway, none of this is really rocket science, but I’ve got some limitations and questions.
Firstly – the limitations. I really need to stick within the technology infrastructure supported by the College. This is basically MS based, with the library web pages sitting on W2K server, using IIS. Other library systems (LMS, federated search, link server) all run on UNIX and Apache.
Secondly, I’m not sure if we should use xml and xslt to acheive the aim of separating data from presentation, just use xhtml and css, or do a database driven site – or use a database backend to support either of the other methods.
Finally, I’ve come to realise that I’ve always thought of the library web presence as having several components: The OPAC; The Resource Discovery Tool; the Website. However, it seems clear that visitors only perceive a single web presence, and don’t understand why the ‘opac’ is separate to information about our opening hours. Part of the challenge is going to be integrating our ‘applications’ into our website in a reasonably seamless way, but without overwhelming the user with too many options at once.
Although we are in the early stages of the design – looking at stakeholders and content needs – and I want any technical solution to support the needs not drive them – I am eager to get some of the issues sorted out now.