Uniting a University Library Community
Ranking among the largest university library systems in the United States, this system has 20-plus libraries and information centers. The University Library System partnered with Mediacurrent to help plan and move to a robust Drupal 8 platform with a user-centered design. UX features, such as a bento box search, and provide a forward-thinking approach to information access, sorting, and content delivery.
The University Library’s primary goal was to improve the ability to conduct research, transforming the site into a dynamic research tool combining millions of library resources. They faced several challenges:
- The library websites serve a wide variety of users, from new students to seasoned faculty with years of experience.
- Users demanded a way to customize their experience by saving configurations, tools, and content relevant to their research.
- A visual UI overhaul and user-centered design to streamline a cluttered search interface and incorporate additional data sources.
- Designing for accessibility and section 508 and WCAG compliance.
Our approach was to gain optimal performance from the University Library’s content and make it easy for all end-users and editors to support and extend. We built a Drupal platform that integrates the library’s third-party research tools and student information system. On the new site, tailored UX, bento-style site search, and expanded dashboards guide students to university resources. A clean and focused search interface integrates 20+ libraries with a myriad of user personas and 3rd-party content sources.
As an extension of the University Library team, Mediacurrent provided governance and guidance on development best practices to create the new site with Drupal 8 paragraphs and a component-based approach. Combining the library’s third-party tools for resource discovery with bento-style search provides a powerful research engine for the university’s learning community.
Primed for A11y
The existing Drupal 7 system for the University Library used over 200 contributed modules. Our approach was to focus on core Drupal 8 functionality over a 1 to 1 update of the current Drupal 7 contributed modules. For the content layout, we switched from a Views-and-Blocks approach to a more flexible Paragraphs-based approach. Some subsites were built in WordPress and needed to be migrated over to one ecosystem. We used Drupal’s WordPress migrate module for migrating over content from these sites.
Leveraging work from the Drupal Rain CMS distribution, we built the content layout using paragraph components. Paragraphs work as Lego blocks for creating content, providing the University Library team with the editorial flexibility they need to create unique pages.
A components-based approach allowed frontend developers to create components in a style guide while a backend developer created fields and form configurations needed for that specific paragraph type. Developers could work in parallel and build out unique components.
Bento-style search provides a solution for the University Library to consolidate its various search resources into one page in a way that is easy to digest. Results are displayed through a React frontend while a Drupal backend serves to normalize data. With just one search query, the bento search system can scan multiple sources (i.e. 3rd party API’s, library databases, and Solr Search) and get a subset of results in what is called “bento boxes.” Each bento box could have results structured differently. We were able to define the output and the number of results returned per box.
The redesigned system is on its way to becoming an even more customizable and personalizable research tool. Through a continued partnership with Mediacurrent, the University Library System is uncovering new opportunities for search personalization such as enhancing customization capabilities for bento search results.