Although much of our work is with databases and web search applications we also help clients with other information organization tasks. Recently we were approached by the Harry Lash Library at Metro Vancouver to help redesign an intranet site.
Metro Vancouver has an extensive SharePoint-based intranet with detailed team sites for the many departments and groups within the large organization. The library's presence was small, with a large amount of information crammed onto a few pages, and library staff, as in many small libraries, had more urgent priorities and an intranet redesign never quite made it to the top of the daily task list (sound familiar?). This meant that the website was stale, visually unappealing, and lacking a lot of useful information that staff had been accumulating over the years.
Library staff approached Andornot to help move the intranet redesign forward. We met with staff to understand their goals for the site – what sort of information they want to provide Metro Vancouver staff, what resources they manage and services they provide, and how they’d like to present themselves to Metro Vancouver.
Based on these meetings, we drafted a new site architecture – a two-level, 15-20 page organization of content that describes who and what the library is, the many print and electronic resources it manages, and the services it provides to Metro Vancouver staff. We also included topic pages for specific departments within Metro Vancouver to guide staff to resources of greatest use to them, including materials within the library's Inmagic Genie catalogue.
Working within the existing SharePoint site, we created the pages from the new hierarchy and populated them with content. This included newly-written and assembled materials, as well as information that was previously buried in other documents. In particular, we developed canned searches into the catalogue for journal titles by subject, replacing a labour-intensive, stand-alone list that had existed on the previous website.
Once the new site was about 80% complete, we scheduled a round of usability testing. We invited staff from a few departments to preview the new site and assigned them information discovery tasks. We watched as they navigated the site and noted where they had trouble, then modified some aspects of the site to smooth over the rough patches. This level of usability testing is simple to perform, but provides valuable feedback. A more extensive survey of the information needs of Metro Vancouver staff is also planned.
Once the site was as close to complete as possible (and of course, it will continue to evolve), the library held a launch party, complete with muffins and cupcakes, in the library.
"The launch went really well – we had almost 70 people! I'm really glad we did the launch as a way of 'marking' the event. People really seemed to like the website and I picked up a few suggestions for content." says Thora Gislason, Metro Vancouver Corporate Librarian.
"I owe you both a huge thank you for that initial meeting that got me motivated and to Jonathan for drafting the navigation, doing the usability testing, and kick-starting the population of content!!"