Getting Staff on Board and Using a CMS: Moving to WordPress

The hardest part of moving any website is getting staff trained and changing their workflow to actually use the CMS. We previously had a static HTML type site, so everyone would email changes to one or two people. It was a big shift to suddenly have people take care of their own content.

As part of the training session, I briefly reviewed why we moved the website to a CMS and more importantly, how it benefits our patrons. It covered the usual, shifting resources and staff time, less maintenance, keeping content current, etc.

Tutorials

I found the best WordPress tutorials for staff were the WordPress.com support articles related to creating content. The only differences come from the plugins that are installed, but in our case, this only affects the “Upload/Insert” section above the editing area.

We also have access to lynda.com video tutorials, so I suggested the relevant sections (5 + 6) of the WordPress Essential Training.

I also wrote up a short blurb on how to check for broken links in a more visual way (and for our non-WordPress pages). I basically referred them to install and use LinkChecker (a Firefox plugin).

Content Guidelines

In addition to training staff on the actual CMS, I wrote two sets of guidelines for them to follow.

  1. General Guidelines on ‘Writing for the Web’
  2. Using WordPress to Make Content Accessible (to come in a future post)

To make it easy for staff to use, I wrote it as a page on the intranet (with anchor links for a short table of contents), and also made a PDF version for them to easily print it off.

Making Staff Responsible

I think the most important step in shifting web content management from a single team to the entire staff is assigning responsibility. If no one “owns” a page, it will not be regularly reviewed. If you assign ownership, at least it increases the chance of that happening. Here are the short blurb I wrote on staff’s responsibility of content:

Page Ownership Responsibilities

While you may delegate the task of creating or updating content on any page you own, you are ultimately responsible for it. This includes:

  • Content is up to date
  • Content, especially audio/visual, conform to Accessibility Guidelines
  • Copyright is cleared for all content (if applicable)
  • Transferring ownership when needed (long term leave, end of term)

Please Note: When links are found to be broken, you will automatically be notified via e-mail. However this is not a full-proof system as many broken links will not be “marked” broken. See the ‘How to Check for Broken Links’ page for more information.

Assigning Ownership

We explicitly mention that editing of pages can be delegated, because we decided that librarians would be responsible for pages. We identified and changed each page’s author to the librarian who would become the owner.

We still have about a dozen pages outstanding in which our team maintains as needed, but we also expect that staff may edit it if they find mistakes.

The Result

So far, it’s been fairly successful (yay!). While I get calls on occasion for help, staff seem to be finding it easier to use than Drupal (which we have for our intranet), and most seem to have no problems using it.

Content on a lot of pages are being updated, though as always, it really depends on the owner. One of the problems is that we migrated the existing pages, and there’s a lot of overlap in information, which we really need to consolidate. So, making the website better as a whole will take a bit more time, but at least content is now being updated on a more regular basis.

Making Announcements: On-Site vs. News Blog

We’ve recently had to put up a couple of announcements due to some patches and upgrades on our library website server. Right now, I’m doing it the way I’ve seen it done on most library websites and that’s to simply put up an announcement on the front page.

Ryerson Home page with Announcement

However, there are numerous downsides to this method.

First, the way I’ve done it, it only shows on the home page, and no other page.

Second, you have to visit the website beforehand while the announcement is up in order to know that the site will be down later.

Using the Blog

One way to get around the second problem at least, is to use the blog. Posting on the blog automatically pushes the downtime announcements to the homepage feed, meaning that anything following the feed will see the notice even without visiting the site. On our blog, we can also automatically push to Twitter and Facebook if we choose to do so.

On the other hand, it’s very much time sensitive, and if the person doesn’t visit the site during the early hours of the morning, they wouldn’t even notice. Is it something people really need to be notified off-site? If someone visits often enough, they’ll see it.

Notification Bar

To fix the first problem though, I have been pondering the use of a notification bar. Much like the ones you see when your JavaScript or Cookies are disabled (see the stackoverflow example below).

Example of Notification Bar with Stack Overflow's site

Of course, best practices seem to be to only use notification bars for browser related issues.

Pop Up

What might work better is to have a in-page popup on first visit (once the announcement is set), with the option to dismiss it. Using cookies, you could then locally store a simple variable to see whether the person has dismissed that particular announcement already.

Ideally, we could do it in such a way that it will work across the entire domain rather than just the one site.

code4lib Cool Tool Day

So inspired by the ASIS&T Cool Tool Day, I thought it’d be neat to do one of these since there weren’t many volunteers to do lightning talks/presentations at the code4lib Toronto meetup this time around. Our attendance was a little… paltry, but we had some great presentations! Here are my notes from the session.

Presented by @waharnum

soapUI

  • working with REST based web services
  • testing automation tool for web services
  • best for building with other API
  • autogenerate stubs using WSDL
  • interface between internal systems
  • good for documenting web services, code style with examples
  • normally, mostly used for unit testing

Trello

  • virtual card based whiteboard
  • flexible for planning based
  • collaborative
  • great usability/UI
  • even has mobile apps

Mustache Templates

  • maintaining HTML email templates
  • also works as a crazy text editor for nerds

XSL Transforms plugin in Firefox

  • local reporting
  • anything XSLT with just a few security restrictions
  • e.g. SVN reporting

Presented by @adr

ShowOff

  • cross platform presentation
  • push from laptop to another computer

Sidenote: Other Presentation Tools

Presented by @ruebot

VIM Plugins

  • pathogen – linking for VIM plugins to automatically load VIM plugins
  • nerdtree – pull files quickly by displaying directory/tree

Presented by Pomax

Thimble HTML/CSS Live Web editor

  • teach anyone (kids, adults) HTML and CSS
  • use existing projects to make it fun!

FlickrFindr

  • easy inline flickr search of CC images
  • attribution in alt text

Presented by me

F.lux

  • monitor hue changer, supposedly to help people sleep better by telling your body what time of day it is

That’s it! Hope to do another one of these or lightning talks next time.