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Therapy for your CMS: Improving the User Experience
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Therapy for your CMS: Improving the User Experience

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In web design, much of user experience design is focused on the needs and expectations of end-users. However, when developing within an open-source content management system (CMS), it becomes …

In web design, much of user experience design is focused on the needs and expectations of end-users. However, when developing within an open-source content management system (CMS), it becomes essential to also consider those who will be using the CMS.At the University of Houston Libraries, the Web Services department learned how essential it is to balance usability and functionality when developing a CMS after they really started using and getting feedback on their over-engineered intranet implementation in Drupal.This talk will include lessons learned from our initial mistakes, but focus primarily on the challenges and successes of the CMS built for the Libraries’ website and the methods we used for engaging users to help determine the initial direction for the development of the CMS. Attendees will leave with ideas on how to simultaneously provide flexibility and advanced tools to improve the user experience and apply “therapy” to their own CMS implementations. Background article: Improving the Drupal User Experience, http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/4578

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  • 1. Therapy for your CMS:Improving the User Experience
    Rachel Vacek
    University of Houston Libraries
    J. Boye Conference
    Philadelphia
    May 4, 2011
  • 2. About the University of Houston
    Established 1927
    3rd largest university in Texas
    12 colleges, 320 degree programs
    38k FTE
    Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university
    Located in Houston, TX
  • 3. About the UH Libraries
    Member of Association of Research Libraries
    201 library staff
    Multiple libraries on campus
    Multiple CMSs
    50+ content editors on intranet
    30+ content editors on main website
    Varied familiarity with technology
  • 4. OLD Intranet
  • 5. Intranet Redesign - 2008
    Chose Drupal
    Powerful
    Modular
    Flexible
    Active user community
    Peer institutions using Drupal
  • 6. Planning & Development
    Had clear goals
    Conducted surveys
    Utilized focus groups
    Added needed functionality
    Built what users wanted
  • 7.
  • 8. It improved communication throughout the Libraries.
    Users could collect data via webforms.
    It was visually more appealing.
    Many processes and workflows were automated.
    There was much more info about departments and committees.
  • 9. But issues began to surface
  • 10. For example, users had to choose between 24 content types.
  • 11. Some modules, such as Panels, were too confusing.
  • 12. Web Services spending too much time helping people.
    Drupal terminology was unfamiliar.
    The search functionality was miserable.
    The Blocks page took 3 minutes to load.
    Too many modules!
    Users needed ongoing training for the advanced as well as simple stuff.
    Took too long to do simple tasks.
  • 13. Web Services spending too much time helping people.
    Drupal terminology was unfamiliar.
    CMS UX FAIL
    The search functionality was miserable.
    The Blocks page took 3 minutes to load.
    Too many modules!
    Users needed ongoing training for the advanced as well as simple stuff.
    Took too long to do simple tasks.
  • 14. Don’t the users of a CMS deserve a good user experience too?
  • 15. CMS UX Therapy
    Do research on modules FIRST
    Pay attention to your peers
    Follow the “use only what you need” philosophy
    Find balance between usability and functionality
    Don’t give users toomany options
  • 16. CMS UX Therapy
    “Remove” the extraneous stuff
    Create templates for multiple page layouts
    Create roles for basic users as well as advanced users
    Documentation
    How certain tools work
    Reasoning for choices
    Create and embed self-help within CMS
    Use Google Analytics on your Intranet
  • 17.
  • 18. CMS UX Therapy
    An investment in CMS simplification and respect for the user experience can yield an extremely powerful system run by satisfied, happy users.
  • 19. Main Website Redesign – 2010
    Applied lessons learned from Intranet CMS failure
    Created help video tutorials
    Picked more appropriate modules to help with creating a good UX
    Admin module
    Content locking module
    Workflow module
    Pathauto module
    Custom modules
    WYSIWYG editor
  • 20. Main Website Redesign – 2010
    Conducted continuous usability testing with content editors on the new CMS during development
    Today, content editors are more eager to use the CMS and are more interested in keeping their content current
  • 21. For example, we limited content types to six.
  • 22. Editing pages is now simpler, and extraneous fields are hidden.
  • 23. We also buit custom tools to make it easy for content editors to maintain their resources.
  • 24. Whether developing a website or a CMS, always consider the user experience!
  • 25. Thank You!
    Email: vacekrae@gmail.com
    Twitter: @vacekrae
    Presentation available: http://slideshare.net/vacekrae
    Background article: Improving the Drupal User Experience, http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/4578

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