As the air gets crisper and precipitation drives us indoors, Fall is a great time to reflect and to find energy for new projects and adventures.
Have you thought about the web presence your museum, archive or library collection has? Are you providing users with modern tools to help them research your records and share them with others. Here are 10 ideas to read on a blustery Fall day, and that could add some sparkle to your website and online collections.
- Upgrade to a more modern search engine, such as our Andornot Discovery Interface, with features users expect when searching. For example, see how we helped Forestry Innovation Investment with their ThinkWood Research Library.
- Add ever more historic content to attract users interested in local history and genealogy, like the Arnprior & McNab/Braeside Archives did with back issues of the Arnprior Chronicle newspaper.
- Add a map interface so users can browse geographically, like the one we built for the Ontario Jewish Archives.
- Have lots of documents? Why not index the full text of them, then when a user searches for keywords, take them directly to the most relevant page in the PDF. No more downloading and repeating the search within the PDF to find the right page. Learn more.
- Get out in front of Community Engagement by adding the Disqus commenting system to your search results, so users can more easily discuss items in your collection, help identify people and places, and provide feedback to you.
- Make sure your website or search engine is mobile friendly. Google and other search engines now place mobile-friendly results higher in their rankings. And make sure you have a sitemap and permalinks so your collection can be easily indexed by Google and Bing.
- Planning to digitize large works, such as maps, paintings, or architectural drawings? Will users be able to see the fine detail in the resulting images on your website or in your search engine? Our Image Zoomer can help, by allowing users to easily zoom in on specific areas of a large image, without having to download that very large file.
- Is your website looking dated? Maybe it has the digital equivalent of large shoulder pads or flared pants? Time for a refresh? Let us help with a Content Management System and new graphic design, like we did recently for PRCVI (the BC Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired).
- Can't attract the attention of your own IT staff to help with your website or software? Why not have Andornot host it?
- On a tight budget? Consider our low-cost Digital History Hub platform for putting collections online and making virtual exhibits.
Contact us to discuss any of these ideas, and ones of your own.
The Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) has launched a newly designed and built website. The site features up-to-date resources for teachers of the visually impaired, parents, and school district personnel working with blind and visually impaired students in British Columbia.
The previous version of the website was in use for about three years, and was mostly generated from a DB/TextWorks database using canned queries for content for individual pages. While this unique approach allowed staff to use a program they are quite familiar with to update content, it didn't provide the level of control over page content that was needed.
The new version is a traditional website - several dozen pages in a three-level hierarchy. The site is a responsive HTML5 design built from the Bootstrap framework and designed to work equally well on both desktop browsers and mobile devices. It has also been tested to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, which is especially important because PRCVI serves visually impaired users.
PRCVI continues to offer a library catalogue and database of vision teachers and other contacts through Inmagic DB/TextWorks and WebPublisher PRO and interfaces built from the Andornot Starter Kit, all tightly integrated into the new site.
"We are delighted with the newly upgraded and enhanced PRCVI website - Andornot have done a spectacular job, they were able to accommodate all our requirements and offer great suggestions at the planning stage. We were so pleased with the initial design presented we needed to make very few changes. Now the website is so much easier to use, more visually appealing and inviting to our clients. Great job." Says Chris Marshall, Manager, Provincial Resource Centre for the Visually Impaired (PRCVI) and Accessible Resource Centre-British Columbia (ARC-BC).
Contact us to discuss upgrades to your website to meet current standards for accessibility and mobile access.
In June 2011, Andornot helped launch a new website and database for the Canadian Jewish Heritage Network. This site uses the Umbraco CMS to provide information on Canadian Jewish history, and includes two databases of archival and genealogical information, powered by Inmagic WebPublisher PRO and DB/TextWorks.
This June we’ve helped upgrade the site with two new features: an enhanced, multi-database search, and a mobile interface.
Enhanced, Multi-Database Search
The enhanced search is available on the Explore page and uses the Apache Solr search engine to index and search the two separate Inmagic databases (which remain available on the site). Results from both databases are integrated and sorted by relevance, using the sophisticated algorithms in Solr to present the best matches to the user. This feature is particularly useful to genealogical researchers as a “Did you mean” capability can alert them to misspellings or name variations. For example:
To access the mobile interface, simply open www.cjhn.ca in your mobile browser. You’ll be automatically redirected to the mobile view, with all the same content as the full site, but formatted to fit the smaller view of a mobile device.
The mobile view was created by extending the Umbraco CMS with additional templates and stylesheets. This allows CJHN to write content once, but display it in the format most suitable to the viewer.
Contact Andornot to upgrade your own web application to feature a mobile view or enhanced search options.
Odds are that your website will be viewed on a tablet or smart phone. The Washington Post reported that “The last week in 2011 was the biggest ever for Android and iOS. According to mobile app analytics company Flurry, over 20 million devices were activated between Christmas and New Year, and 1.2 billion apps were downloaded. That's about 60 percent higher than every week of December before Christmas, and marks the largest number of apps ever downloaded in a single week, passing a billion downloads for the first time.”
Have you tested how your website looks on a mobile device? There are free resources for this such as iPad-Emulator.com for the iPad, or the Opera Mobile Emulator. See also a more comprehensive list - The Best Mobile Emulators & Responsive Design Testing Tools ... .
In many cases, search screens will work and function well in a mobile browser, but you may wish to create a search screen optimized for smaller screens, just to make the experience that much better. See our blog post WorkSafeBC Launches Mobile Version of Library Catalogue for an example.
Although we don’t recommend substituting a PDF for a search of your database, sometimes this can be useful for fairly static content, i.e. for recommended lists of web resources, or archival finding aids. Most software has a Save As PDF option and if not, there are many free printer drivers such as PrimoPDF or PDFCreator that let you print to PDF very easily. The good news is that your PDF’s can be opened on mobile devices and manipulated using a touch screen. As well as enlarging for easier reading, with apps like iBooks or Kindle you can also view thumbnails and flip through or bookmark pages. Features such as highlighting or annotating are not available though. Your PDF’s can be saved into libraries and synced with iTunes or other devices. So while not all the interactive features of a custom app are available, it’s worth reminding your users of this capability for viewing your PDF’s.
If you need assistance making changes to your website to accommodate mobile devices or decide to create a mobile-specific site, please be sure to contact us.
Earlier this year we announced the availability of a mobile-friendly version of our Andornot Starter Kit (ASK), an add-on to Inmagic WebPublisher Pro. The ASK Mobile Edition enables searching of Inmagic databases using a mobile browser – the kind found on BlackBerries, iPhones, Windows smartphones, and similar devices. While full-size websites can be displayed on these devices, viewing them typically requires a lot of scrolling around and zooming in and out. Websites optimized for mobile devices are designed to give the best user experience on these handheld devices, with their smaller screens and keyboards.
In November, WorkSafeBC became the first Andornot client to apply the ASK Mobile Edition to their library catalogue, creating a version specifically designed for mobile browsers.
"The mobile interface to the Library catalogue is a bit of an experiment to gauge demand for this type of service in our organization. A significant number of Blackberries and iPhones are being issued to WorkSafeBC officers and the mobile interface to the catalogue is a first step to possibly developing a suite of applications to support these devices," says Lance Nordstrom, Librarian at WorkSafeBC.
Marci Gibson, Assistant Librarian at WorkSafeBC, anticipates that "by providing this version we will increase the visibility and usefulness of the library catalogue and also portray the library as being proactive in accommodating emerging technologies.”"
The mobile version of the WorkSafeBC Library catalogue is available here. If you access the full-size catalogue from a mobile browser, the site will detect that and automatically redirect you to the mobile version.
Please contact us to discuss making your Inmagic databases or other web resources available to mobile users.
Links and additional information: