Renew link is back on the home page

Our users spoke, and we listened!

After several comments came in via the website from users who missed being able to Renew items from the homepage, we decided to add it back! 

Some background:

When LIBsearch was introduced a couple months ago, the quick links box went away.  We had tested whether users could still Renew items without a dedicated link and they had no problems with the task.  However we recognized the potential that this particular link might be missed and planned to assess adding it back in conjunction with upcoming homepage content modifications. 

Our thinking was:

Since it is not a link just for Students or just for Faculty/Staff, it didn’t belong down in that lower left section.  There was a suggestion to add a Renew button to the LIBsearch box but we wanted to keep that functionality of the search box as searching only. 

So, after reviewing our page’s architecture and some other sites for guidance, we elected to add it to the top right utilities area of the site on all pages, as shown below.

We see this as a solution that allows us to add back in a popular link in the most logical place within the current page.  When the homepage modifications take place, it is possible the Renew link will be featured elsewhere, in a more logical place.

Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.  We hope this makes our users happier and aids in easy and satisfying use of our site!

Creating a Map of the Libraries Website

In order to improve the current Libraries website, it is necessary to take inventory of the site as it exists today. The Libraries website has over 80 web authors and thousands of pages. Keeping track of such a huge, evolving site can be a daunting task, to say the least.

An example of a map of a website
an example of a map of a website

The deceptively simple way to inventory a website is to click through it and draw a map showing every page. Imagine clicking every link on www.lib.utexas.edu and making a note of where they all go. Fortunately, there are specific tools that exist to do things like this. Those tools are called Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs), and one just happens to sit in the TIS suite.

But before putting me, the TIS GRA, to work mapping the Libraries site, the technology pros in TIS suggested that it might be worthwhile to investigate software that will automate the task of creating a website map. An automated tool would be much faster than a GRA and might be just as effective.

PowerMapper's "Skyscrapers" content visualization
one type of content visualization

I found a couple of automated tools designed to help assess the information architecture of a website. I evaluated them and summarized my conclusions in a report. The automated tool I found that best fits the project requirements crawls the Libraries website and creates a surprisingly accurate map of the content. It also generates nifty visualizations of that content, which can be useful when demonstrating the depth and breadth of such a huge site. These visualizations make it easier to see overlapping content, organizational flaws, and pages that might get overlooked by human eyes. And did I mention the software does all this automatically? No GRA required? Sounds like a good deal to me.

Update 4/24/09: So far I have created 14 separate maps and have received some great feedback.