Thursday, January 15, 2009

My Day Job is Eating My Brain

I haven't been writing as much lately, and it's mostly because my day job is eating my brain. I can't believe how consuming my latest project has been.

I work for the libraries at Cornell University, and I'm one of a team of 20 people who have been working to redesign the library's website. This isn't just a "look and feel" update; it's an update of all the searching interfaces people use to find materials, and an addition of lots of "Web 2.0" goodies. If you could see the old site now, you'd see that it was VERY "Web 1.0"; lots of pages full of text ("static content"), not a lot of interactive features.

Well, no more. We've finally joined the 21st century, having basically skipped the last decade's worth of web development. The old site was built in 1997-ish and just had more and more stuff crammed onto it. It was a case of "too many cooks," and the result was a complex, confusing site. We hope we've made it better.

The new site went live on Monday, even though there were still things to do on it, and now we're dealing with the fallout... everyone has an opinion, and you definitely can't please everyone. Add that to the fact that people who were responsible for reviewing the "static" content in November didn't get back to us with changes until this week, and I've been busier than a one-armed paperhanger.

I didn't get to design this site; I was brought on to "populate the static content," which basically means I'm a traffic cop coordinating the workflow between the programmers and the people doing usability testing and design. In my spare time I create the parts of the site that don't have special gizmos and doo-dads on them. I did help with encoding decisions that would impact the future maintenance of the site, and next month I get to train the laypersons who will be maintaining the site. We used Drupal content management system to build the site; it's a first for (almost) all of us, and we hope that it will be easy for our non-tech-y maintenance team members to use.

So if you want to see the job that ate my brain, check out http://www.library.cornell.edu, and let me know what you think. My skin is thick, and I'm getting really good at saying, "Thank you for your input. We'll add your suggestions to our list of items for consideration..."

There isn't enough coffee or chocolate to get me through the next day and a half.

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