26 Sep 08 Oh, those redirects … and your bookmarks …

As has often been noted, it is impossible to make a souffle without cracking some eggs. We are in the process of transforming 60,000 pages so that any of them that link through the left navigation end in index.xml, a method that allows users to get to them by typing in the name of the parent directory. Others have been detached from their navigation and grouped onto listing pages with like information, to make it more convenient for users to locate information by topic. (Yes, topical aggregation, a concept familiar to librarians everywhere.) The topical groupings also make it possible for us to review documents generated by any ALA unit and to plan for updating and logical expansion of the available offerings.

Sixty-thousand redirects was and is far more redirects than we have the staff to make, and what that many redirects would do to the website speed of delivery makes me cringe. Common redirects to the division, round table, and office pages have been updated and deployed. Now that the site has been launched, we can analyze the 404s (page not found) to help us determine which redirects are really needed. Naturally, your bookmarks have broken, since many site resources have been relocated and in some cases, renamed. Whether you believe it or not, we lost a lot of sleep over the issue of the redirects. We did put server rules in place to funnel users to content. And Karen Muller of the ALA Library has been responding to requests for information on the location of ‘misplaced’ files in a very timely fashion, via the feedback form on the site.

Our Google appliance crawled the staging site, which was necessary to test it. Unfortunately, it cached more information than we expected. When the staging site files were moved to become the new live site, the search results still provided some links pointing to staging, where the files no longer existed. Starting at 5:00 today, we are clearing the appliance and resetting it to crawl the live site continuously over the weekend.

This was, as you may have noticed, more than a redesign. It is a user-centered reorganization of the site’s resources, and there will be additional user testing at Midwinter to further refine our approach. I hope you will take the time to explore the site, become familiar with its new structure, and that over the next year, you will see continuous improvement in usability and accessibility, as well as an expansion of the materials available.

I welcome your feedback, either here or via that aforementioned website feedback form. I also get those messages. ; )

Louise Gruenberg


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    […] as fast as we can find them. Louise Gruenberg, ALA’s new senior usability officer, has posted on another blog about why we haven’t been able to make redirects for everything, but we can be sure linkages from […]