I had the pleasure of delivering my first official WebJunction conference presentation with Chrystie Hill on Saturday at LITA 08 in lovely Cincinnati. The topic was “Design for Participation.” We took attendees on a journey that included a short history of WebJunction, we talked about our design/development processes and choices, and looked forward into the next year or so at WebJunction.
With a lot of ground to cover in an hour, we kept things on a fairly high level. Overall though, I think we provided a nice overview and were able to dig into few areas during audience questions— we even had a live blogger who did a heck of job annotating our slides!
Some drive-by key points from the session:
More detail is available in the slides at WebJunction. Please check them out and let us know if you have any questions.
Along with our new platform, WebJunction has a new course catalog with around 600 new courses to choose from. In order to help you pull a few needles out of that haystack, we feature one course that we’ve heard is especially useful or might meet an important need for library staff. Our featured course this week was managing difficult patrons with confidence. (And anyone who has worked in a public library probably knows what we mean by “difficult”. It’s not necessarily that the patrons themselves are difficult. It’s that managing some behaviors can be.)
Full course details are listed below. As always, let us know if you’ve taken the course by leaving a comment or tag. If there are other courses you’d like to see at WebJunction, let us know that as well!
Lots of ongoing, and positive, activity but not a ton of detail to share
right now – those are the basics of our performance report for this week.
In the past couple of blog posts we outlined a bit of the “how”
regarding boosting WebJunction’s site performance, and our team is hard
at work on putting those plans into motion. Last week saw the install of
additional application servers and a corresponding uptick in home page
performance (yay!), and we are working to clearly understand the impact and
next steps. More to come as we progress.
In the meantime, one more plug to join in on the feedback discussions
happening in our Help & Support area.
The WebJunction Team
This past weekend saw a significant boost to the capacity of our site, with an install in our datacenter doubling the number of application servers. The results so far from our testing tools have been positive, with the WebJunction home page (www.webjunction.org) seeing sub-9 second response times when measured from 40 global cities across a variety of test setups. This is down from the 20 second plus home page load times from just two weeks ago. More work remains on deeper pages on the site, but we’re excited about this positive step in the right direction.
The WebJunction Team
As mentioned in a blog post last week, we will be providing weekly updates on our efforts to boost the overall performance of WebJunction.org. As always, if you have specific questions or problems, please email us at email@example.com or share them in the help & support discussions.
Updates for Week of September 2nd:
We’ve already seen noticeable upticks in response times for our home page as a result of recent efforts, but plenty of work remains. Stay tuned for more updates.
(These updates will normally come on Tuesdays, but were delayed due to Labor Day).
The WebJunction Team
As we mentioned in a recent post, improving the overall performance and responsiveness of WebJunction post-launch is our top priority. Right now we are seeing page load times in several areas of the site that just aren’t up to our expectations or those of our members and partners, and we are committed to making the site easy and enjoyable to both actively use or just wander through. Because “we’re working on it” absent any details can get old quickly, we want to share in more detail the steps we’re taking to improve your WebJunction experience.
The process to identify performance issues and rollout remedies has several steps which are already underway:
Step 1 (complete):
Last weekend we rolled out several improvements to the servers that host WebJunction in our datacenter in Ohio. These improvements related to how the Web and application servers were configured. We also, starting on Thursday morning, began a scheduled process to clear server memory shortly before peak user times on the site. Servers are individually scheduled, allowing users to be directed to other servers by our “load balancing” equipment.
Did it work? Yes, to a degree. Since we implemented these changes and processes, our servers have all seen noticeable improvements in response times. While our goal is to ensure that all users are able to load the home page in under 10 seconds, a significant percentage of users are still not experiencing those numbers. A good start, but a start only.
Step 2 (underway now to implement within the next 2 weeks):
Double the overall number of application servers that run WebJunction and our partner sites on September 7th. In effect we’re adding more overall capacity and capability. Once that’s in place we’ll continue to apply diagnostic tools to portions of the site and code that we suspect may be contributing to poor performance, and learning everything we can. This sets the stage for…
Step 3 (ongoing):
Take everything we’ve learned in Step 2 and turn our developers loose to optimize the code in areas that need improvement. This process in effect will never end – as site traffic grows and we add more functionality, we’ll be constantly and relentlessly focusing on improving performance across all aspects of the user experience on WebJunction. This is where we hope to see the most significant, long term gains in performance across the site.
While we can’t promise “X improvement in response times by Y date”, we are confident that both our short-term fixes and long-term improvements will result in a noticeably faster WebJunction. Please watch this blog for additional updates as we have them.
Your input and experience with WebJunction is critical to helping us continue to identify and resolve any issues. Please continue to share your comments with us here on the blog, via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or in our help & support discussions on the site.
The WebJunction Team
Update: The archive from the Advanced Engagement Webinar is now available. Thanks to all who joined the session!
We’ve had a busy few weeks getting settled into the new digs on WebJunction. Hope you’ve had a chance to visit the site, sign in and take a tour. There are a couple great ways to get started, if you haven’t done so already.
If you’re interested in making the most of the new tools as an engaged member of the library community, you won’t want to miss the upcoming Webinar on Advanced Engagement this coming Tuesday, August 19 at 2:00 ET/11:00 PT.
The session is designed to showcase site improvements that essentially turn content and discussions over to you, our contributing and most engaged members. If you’ve been involved in the past as a WebJunction contributor or moderator, be sure to join us on Tuesday or check back for the archive. Stay tuned for more ways to help members build the rich online community of WebJunction.
Looking forward to your advanced engagement on WJ!
In case you haven’t been keeping up with BlogJunction or visiting your favorite library community site (right?), we launched an all new version of WebJunction last week! The improvements include a wide range of new social tools, more and better courses, and a bunch of other enhancements.
Got your interest? Take a look at some helpful videos and steps to get started.
It was a busy week, and the next few promise to be even busier. We’d like to pause to share a bit about what we’ve learned, what you told us, and what to expect next.
First up, some stats and facts:
Next up, feedback – lots and lots of feedback came in from all directions, much of it positive, much of it very pointed yet helpful. The teams in Seattle and Dublin glued ourselves not only to the various feedback and feature request discussion forums, and our support email aliases, but also to helpful tools like Twitter (via the ex-Summize search in particular), Friendfeed, blog searches, and more. If you commented on WebJunction via anything that could be indexed, we probably heard and hopefully replied!
The positive feedback was welcome and very exciting to see, but I want to highlight some of the helpful comments and clear areas where we must improve – and how we’re addressing them. The most common comments revolved around:
To everyone who reported errors or had helpful suggestions, our entire staff would like to say THANK YOU! Those emails to email@example.com and posts to our discussion threads are immensely helpful and will only make the site better over the long run. Please, keep them coming! Visit the Help and Support section to let us know.
We’ll share updates here both on the fun stuff – new groups, topics, milestones reached, and so on – as well as updates on the things we’re fixing or adding to WebJunction in the coming weeks. So please, keep reading, keep using the site, and thank you for an exciting first week.
The WebJunction Team
The My WebJunction Page may just be my favorite feature on the freshly relaunched WJ site. It is powerful, it is unique to Libraryland and it was designed and created specifically for us as library professionals. Plus, as you can see in video below, it’s just pretty cool! Who knew library staff would ever be able to do this in our own unique profession specific network, built just for US? Follow the link to the page hosting the video on WebJunction or just click the play button below to see why the My WebJunction Page has me all jazzed. Then log-in, make some connections and friends and watch what happens. If you haven’t discovered YOUR My WebJunction Page, we’re hoping you’ll be eager to start using it after you see this:
I also wanted to take a second to personally thank every single one of you that have tried the site out during its first week. We have seen huge amounts of activity this week and are so happy to see folks diving in. We are also very pleased to get your feedback as well. Most things are working well on the site, but please know that we are working very hard to respond to and address any question, concerns and bugs that have come up. And we thank you very much for your patience in those instances. This is truly a library community resource and you telling us what you think, how to make it better and what you would like to see in the future will be what helps make that future happen. So please keep contacting us, keep kicking the tires and continue to dive in. See you on Your, Mine and OUR “My WebJunction”!
Coming up for air to blog about the powerful new contributor tools on WJ. Yes, it’s true there are so many new ways to “socialize” and connect with libraryland colleagues on the site, but let’s not forget the improved and easy way for you to share your content. In addition to collocating discussions right alongside the related content, we’ve enabled self-service content management with the addition of a single button, “submit document”. Here’s what you’ll see when you browse to your favorite library topic area (or Group!):
Back in March, I alluded to this functionality in a post about enhanced “civic engagement” and about WJ’s ongoing goal to facilitate a highly engaged online community for library staff. Now you can see why I was so excited about putting the tools into the hands of you, the members. Sharing articles, templates, best practices, lessons learned, etc. has never been easier.
There are a number of other ways you can contribute or engage with content on the site. Please take the time to be “knowledge stewards” and share your contributions with your library colleagues. Our libraries and communities will be all the better for it.
As you already know, this weekend WJ launched its long awaited upgrade and many of you are busy exploring the exciting new functionality. We know it isn’t perfect but with your help we will continue to improve and refine it to provide the tools that will be most useful to you.
As the founder of WJ I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped bring us to this point. Six years ago there was no WebJunction, just a dream that, working together, we could create a community in which library staff could share information and provide support for each other. The Gates Foundation funded that dream and OCLC provided a home. But none of that would have been enough without a first rate staff of people who believed in the dream and were willing to work tirelessly to make it happen.
Even more important, it couldn’t have happened without you, the members and partners of WJ. We now have 15 community partners and are visited by 70,000 unique individuals a month. You provide the content; you are the community. You are WebJunction.
At the end of August I will step down as Executive Director secure in the knowledge that our shared dream will survive and flourish. I expect to continue to contribute to the WJ community but in a somewhat less intense fashion. For more information about my personal goals as I move into the next version of my own life please visit my personal blog: http://thepacific.typepad.com/
For now I just want to say thank you. It has been a grand experience.
Imagine a place online where you could represent yourself as a library professional…
To other library professionals…
All the while connecting with your colleagues based on your professional interests, activities, geography, or….anything!
Soon you’ll be able to put your best foot forward in Libraryland with your new WebJunction Profile Page.
You can control very specifically who sees your information.
And you will be able to connect with others library staffers around the globe.
All based on your shared interests, type of work, geography, associations or…..
There has never been a more exciting time to work with libraries and information.
And your Profile Page on the new WebJunction is just one of the many exciting and unique ways to thrive professionally in these exciting times.
Get more done, build valuable professional relationship and have fun doing it!
It all starts by building your Profile Page on the new WebJunction site.
It’s coming soon. Very, VERY soon!
Look at the larger image of this screen shot to get more details about what you can share on your new WebJunction Profile Page and imagine how you will find other library folks to connect and collaborate with:
Like everything else on the next version of WebJunction, our webinars will be getting spruced up. Here’s a quick run-down of our webinars past and future.
What are WebJunction webinars?
1/2 hour to 1 hour long free online sessions using Wimba Classroom on topics of interest to the library community. You’ll still to be able to access and share our 62 archived free webinars on the new site. Keep checking the Calendar of Events for new additions to the schedule.
Where will they be?
You’ll be able to find webinars in multiple areas of the new site. A schedule of all webinars will continue to placed on the Calendar of Events with links to registration and joining information. A schedule of upcoming and archived webinars will be browsable in the new Member Center under Events and Webinars. And webinar archives will be collocated by topic area in order to place them as close to the relevant topic as possible. Because of this, webinar participants will have the opportunity to engage more directly with topic-specific content on the new site before and after the webinar.
When will they be held?
So today I was playing around with the “Groups” functionality in the beta version of the new WebJunction site that we are launching in just a few short weeks. I’m a big proponent of learning by working with things you think are fun, so I made a Group intended for Library Staff that play World of Warcraft** If you play WoW and are a library staffer, please join the group fun here when we launch!
And you know, once we launch the new site you’ll be able to make your own Groups and invite people to join them. As you can see in the larger version of the picture, each group will then have member (well, only one at first:), an overview tab (what you see in the image here), a documents tab (for you to upload docs and media to), and a discussions tab (where you can have message board types of themed conversations strings. WoW Library Staff would join the Group I made today, but I wonder… what kind of Group would YOU make for Libraryland?
** WoW is the largest video game on the internet that lets you play with other people. Wow is a MMORPG or a “Massive(ly) Multi-player Online Role Playing Game”. Yes, I know I am a nerd!
Thanks so much if you took a moment to answer WebJunction’s recent survey! We very much appreciate the 2,000-plus responses from the United States, Canada, and across the globe.
We were excited to hear that 73 percent of you visit WebJunction at least monthly, and almost half of you have bookmarked WebJunction on your internet browsers. An overwhelming majority of users report that they are satisfied or very satisfied with their WebJunction experience and would recommend WebJunction to their colleagues.
When asked, “What skill or knowledge would you like to add to your expertise to help you in your work?” the WebJunction community had a lot to say. Here’s what they say they wish they knew more about:
For our part, the WebJunction staff will use these survey results to guide our work in offering courses, and to recruit experts to write articles and host webinars for the WebJunction community. If you have expertise, knowledge or skills in these areas, your library colleagues need you! The next WebJunction is going to open up a door to your sharing policies, practices, documents, and ideas with your colleagues in brand new and exciting ways!