The Georgia Tech Library approached Evolving Web in late 2021 for the purpose of updating its website. While the main impetus behind the project was migrating the library’s existing site from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, the library also sought to update its brand identity in line with its recent renovations while incorporating new features to better serve its community amid a growing range of public offerings.
About the Client
The Georgia Tech Library is an academic library system that serves the needs of the students, faculty and staff of the Georgia Institute of Technology. It consists of two physical buildings, the S. Price Gilbert Memorial Library and the Dorothy M. Crosland Tower – both located on Georgia Tech’s main campus in Atlanta, Georgia, while also managing the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons.
In 2007 the Georgia Tech Library was awarded the Excellence in Academic Libraries Award by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) for its integration of digital technology and renewed focus on the studying needs of students. The library underwent extensive renovations between 2017 and 2020, starting with the Crosland Tower and continuing with the Price Gilbert Library.
The library’s new facilities include a Science Fiction Lounge, Audio and Video Recording Studios, the Scholars Event Network, a Data Visualization Lab, a Faculty Research Zone, a Graduate Student Community and extensive computing clusters and numerous reservable meeting and collaboration rooms. It also offers a wide range of free classes, lectures and workshops for students, faculty and the campus community.
Aside from the need to upgrade its existing website from Drupal 8 to Drupal 9, the Georgia Tech Library needed better search functionality in light of its expanding range of public classes, lectures and workshops. Visually, the library’s site had not been updated since before its recent renovations and the existing site did not capture the beauty and dynamism of this increasingly modern and eclectic library system. There was a threefold need for site migration, improved functionality and a fresh brand identity.
There were several technical and user experience challenges inherent in this project. These stemmed from the fact that we were upgrading an existing site and adding new components to it as opposed to building an entirely new site from scratch. Specific challenges included:
Specific challenges included:
- Deploying the website within the library university’s secure network
- Enhancing the search capabilities to make a combination of internal and external content available through a more seamless user interface
- Integrating external non-Drupal-based services
- Ensuring maximum accessibility for all content components
- Ensuring ease of editing for the numerous staff members involved in updating content while also maintaining site stability
The upgrade from Drupal 8 to 9 was accomplished early on in the project. This began with the Initial codebase import and setup of the development environments, followed by analysis and site upgrades.
The project produced a bold new appearance for the site with vastly improved functionality. Highlights of the new site include:
- A striking honeycomb-themed graphic design throughout the site that is intended to suggest community and collaboration
- Prominent use of gold, blue and white to showcase the library’s primary colours, as well as bright tertiary colours used to create differentiation between the many filter categories and topic areas showcased on the Instruction Offerings, Public Programming and Service Management pages
- Dynamic typography picks up the library brand fonts: Roboto and Roboto Slab
- An improved homepage with RSS integration
- Three key new pages: an instruction page, a public programming page and a service management page
- Extensive use of photography that highlights the library’s new facilities
- A “bento box” search mechanism integrated on the home page to get users moving through multiple resources offered by the library (e.g. articles, journals, catalogues, databases, guides, on site resources)
- Hover states: colour swipes from right to left, suggesting a person reading and flipping a page of a book
- Honeycomb graphics that can be expanded to suggest authors of books, library archives, chapters and pages of books, faculty/instructors, library communities, multiple available volumes, different sections of the library and other search categories
- Custom automated developmental workflow to speed up back-end processes
- User-friendly CMS that is able to easily and quickly update and duplicate page
- Navigation edit functionality so as to enable editing of their main navigation system
- Caching and breadcrumbs fixes
- Custom SEO dashboards
The new Georgia Tech Library website is a significant improvement over its predecessor. Aside from its visual appeal, which is now in line with the library’s attractive modern appearance, the major accomplishment of the site’s redesign is the search functionality.
The new bento box-style search mechanism now subdivides search results into different groups according to type of media (books, articles, images, etc.) and related tools and services (library research guides, relevant web links and other resources) – a vast improvement over the previous site.
The result of this project has been a visually striking site that gives users much faster access to external content sources and efficiently connects library users with the program and resource information they need. The client has found that the user interface was exactly what they were looking for, and the project has been very well received.