If you visited our homepage, say, any time prior to earlier this morning, it would have looked like this:
Serviceable, effective, longer than a 4:00 PM Friday staff meeting: you remember how that felt, right? Well, we’re proud to announce that, as of today, the homepage has gotten a much-needed refresh!
Thanks to the combined efforts of a team from the Digital Projects Group and the Electronic Library’s Instructional Technology team, we have an “above the fold,” streamlined homepage to replace its endless-scrolling predecessor. Let’s take a moment to unpack some of the new features you’ll find next time you visit the Baylor University Libraries Digital Collections!
1. A rotating slideshow of highlights from the collections. Right now, it points to five collections we think would be of high interest to casual visitors, but we’ll be updating it when we add new resources or reach milestones with our collections. Click on an image to open that collection or use the dots at the bottom (or the arrows at left or right) to scroll through.
2. One of the biggest new features is what we’re calling our “institutional landing pages” – newly created pages scoped to present only materials from their source collection. Want to see all the digital collections from the Crouch Fine Arts Library? Just click its name and you’ll see this:
This page contains some basic info about the source library, a list of collection highlights, links to the library’s website and a listing of all the collections in the Digital Collections that come from that library. It’s a convenient way for the special collections and our other partners to direct their patrons directly to materials found only in their physical holdings, and it’s the big reason we’re able to eliminate the long list of collections on the homepage. (Note: you can still see that list by clicking on “Browse All Items” on the new homepage. This will take you to the long, scroll-heavy list that was the homepage before the update.)
3. Quick links to our social media outlets. Now you can connect with our Twitter, blog, Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr feeds right from the homepage with a single click. We’ve also added a new Social Media page to the homepage and each institutional landing page (in the gray navigation bar up top).
4. These quick-look icons give users a one-click entry into some of our most popular searches: locating materials by item type. Want to see all the newspapers in the collections? Click the icon. Hear all the audio? Click the icon. View every post? You know what to do. For casual users or people with limited familiarity with the Digital Collections, these fast-links are a fun way to explore the collections without performing more complex, focused searches.
5. Actually, this text didn’t change at all. It was completely copied over from the old homepage. But it is in a gray box now, so that’s something new!
You’ll also notice that the new homepage features the official Baylor University-sanctioned header and footer, something we were unable to do easily under the old design.
We want to give a big shout-out to our colleagues from the Instructional Technology team – David Taylor and, especially, Karen Savage – for their invaluable help on this. Having Karen’s programming expertise on board meant I could focus on things like lining up content for the page, creating icons, organizing and creating the new institutional landing pages (using Karen’s code for the homepage) and doing the requisite bug testing and grammar/spelling/punctuation checks that have to happen on projects like this.
We’re very pleased with the new look, but we want to hear what you think! Take some time to click around on the new pages, explore them, try some searches and tell us if you see something you like/love/don’t like/doesn’t work, etc. We expect something to be a little off somewhere – there always is when you launch something with as many changes as this update represents – so put those searching and sleuthing skills to work.
We hope you enjoy the new homepage as much as we do, and thanks for being part of the Digital Collections environment. We look forward to continuing to bring you amazing new content, rich contextual information and unparalleled access to the unique library and archival holdings of Baylor University for years to come.
OH, and it stands to reason that, since this is technically a completed project, we must FIRE THE CANNON!