Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Microsoft, Eat Your Heart Out!

Rhumba with Joomla - Using CMS to Build Community
Catherine Morgan and Tao Gao from South Carolina State Library

A case study on how South Carolina State Library built a new interactive web site using the open source software Joomla

Why Joomla?

  • Information is the fastest growing product in the world - Joomla is a free, open source content management system that is easy to install and use and reliable.
  • It offers separation of Content and Form, is portable, estendable, and has strong support communities.
  • Other systems considered, with their drawbacks, included Drupal and blogging software.

About Joomla

  • The main difference between Joomla and a blog is how content is managed - separation of content and form enables posting by many users without danger to form.
  • Joomla also has over 1000 extensions allowing many different types of appllications
  • But...Joomla does not yet integrate with an OPAC - one alternative is to link to catalog on another website

Who is using Joomla ?

Compare content management systems: CMS Matrix - compare up to 10 content management tools.

Trends in open source content management software Google Trends

The Process:

The old web site included more than 1000 static web pages, no navigation structure, inconsistent style, graphically unappealing, table-based layout, no interactivity.

Goals for new web site included:

  • standards compliant site
  • intuitive navigation
  • separation of content and form
  • staff collaboration
  • site-wide search
  • on-line job submissions
  • community oriented
  • rss feeds and other interactive stuff

Web design team included

  • project manager
  • graphic designer
  • web developer with css experience
  • content manager

Phase 1 - 2004 - analysis: conducted online user surveys with survey monkey, and reviewed content in light of the 227 responses - lessons learned: survey monkey worked - open-ended questions were most useful. Assigned rigorous content review for each page to a staff member who had not been responsible for that page's development.

Phase 2 - design: initiated an interface design and review process that stalled for several years. A new library director disbanded with all committees, fired the ineffective graphic designer, and reduced the web design team to two people.

Phase 3 - content audit: CMS (content management system) options explored. Free open source software Joomla was selected in spite of a fairly difficult learning curve. A new graphical interface was designed for Joomia templates, and content migration was completed while the old web site continued to be maintained and updated

Phase 4 -Interactive features: Priority given to developing interactive features including an RSS feed and software for online collaboration

Phase 5 - Deployment and Evolution - the new website content was reviewed, the site went live, the old website was killed, and the new website was moved to an inhouse server, evaluated, and expanded.

Lessons learned - few staff reviewed site, many kudos received after migration, content management system made it much easier to evaluate and improve the site.

Joomla came through! New site: http://www.statelibrary.sc.gov/

The site is entirely built with CSS, and has interactive calendars, an automatically updated home page, and many interactive features.

Staffing - old web site: Homepage Committee, PR Committee, Web Administrator
new web site - 2 web managers, 25 authors, 326 registered members of web site - librarians from all over South Carolina and outside the state

mentioned in passing - the Assistant Director of the Atlantic City Free Public Library is active in the Joomla community

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