Leading the way: web project pilots new technology with multiple sites rebuilt – Dal News

Students, staff and faculty who land on the Faculty of Science or Student Health and Wellness websites this week will benefit from an entirely new and improved website experience, thanks to a project being carried out by Information Technology Services (ITS) which lasted for several years. in the making.

The joint web project was launched well over a year before the creation of dal.ca web renewal project (Login required). At the time, several internal units, including the Faculty of Science, Student Health and Wellness, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, recognized the importance of providing their stakeholders with a better and more usable website, and had already invested time and resources in better understanding their audiences and developing a strategy to modify their sitemap and content.

Unfortunately, their eagerness to rebuild their sites came up against the technical limitations of dal.ca’s current content management system (AEM Classic) which would soon be phased out. It seemed like a waste to try to carry out their plans using an archaic tool.

Fortunately, this challenge also gave the ITS web team and units the opportunity to try out the latest version of dal.ca’s content management system, AEM Touch UI, with each site representing a different test case for the Web creation in this new environment. As a result, the Joint Web Project was formed in early 2020 to bring these separate units together as part of a collaborative team that, with the support of ITS and Communications, Marketing and Creative Services (CMC), would explore the potential of this new web landscape.

Take the plunge

Even though this was unfamiliar territory to everyone involved, it was a risk worth taking in the eyes of senior leaders.

“We recognize the value of a compelling and engaging, user-friendly and interactive website,” said Chris Moore, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “Being part of the Joint Web Project has provided a tool that will allow us to attract the best students, staff and faculty to Dal Science. “

“We are very happy and proud to see these sites come full circle and be live on the Dal.ca domain,” said Heather Fraser, Director of Enterprise Application Services at ITS. we are now and eager to show the results to the world. The hard work and dedication paid off, and we’re ready for the reveal! “

Building the bridge between dal.ca and myDal

The project leveraged another STI web initiative, the myDal 2.0 project (login required), which provides a dedicated space for current faculty, staff and students to find relevant internal or operational information. Each partner of the Joint Web Project embarked on the development process of the myDal site in order to determine the intranet solution that suited them best.

“Our website is the conduit through which thousands of potential students make first contact with Dalhousie and a key place our students, faculty and staff turn for information and support,” said Marty. Leonard, Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. “This process gave us the opportunity to examine how we digitally serve our communities. We look forward to making continuous improvements as the Dal.ca project progresses and our STI and CMC teams are building on what they have learned through this pilot project.

Steer construction sites in the right direction

The three partners of the joint web project are committed to putting their users first. The results of each were guided by multiple cycles of engagement, consultation and testing with students, faculty and staff and guided by the research and expertise of professional Web and UX (user experience) consultants. they hired before joining the project.

“As of fall 2020, Dalhousie has aligned its work with the National Standard for Post-Secondary Student Mental Health and Well-Being, a framework developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada that helps post-secondary institutions support post-secondary education. student mental health and well-being, ”says Verity Turpin, vice-president, student affairs (interim). “An important part of our work has been the development and launch of our new student health and wellness website. This innovative and user-friendly website is an essential tool in providing health information to our community. We look forward to continuing this work and improving access to health resources and services for all students. “

Testing the waters of the touch user interface

What visitors will see when they click on these new sites is an exciting step forward in the evolution of dal.ca. Pilot websites use a limited set of features and functionality of the touch user interface, as well as a draft design that is exclusive to them, as a completely new design is currently being produced by Domain7 for the dal.ca renewal project. . This lays the groundwork for dal.ca web renewal project partners, CMC and ITS, to test and evaluate them, and better understand which front-end and back-end aspects should be adopted or iterated for the next dal rebuild. that. The pilot sites will later be modified to adopt the design of the dal.ca web renewal project once the new system is operational and relaunched during a first phase of deployment.

“The Joint Web Project websites represent a unique learning and development opportunity for everyone involved,” said Matt Proctor, assistant vice president, communications, marketing and creative services. “The lessons learned will be applied to the transition to the touch user interface that hundreds of websites will participate in over the next two years. “

Make click with site visitors

The Faculty of Science and Student Health and Welfare’s dal.ca and myDal sites are now live and ready to be explored by the Dal community. The Faculty of Graduate Studies website is almost complete and will be launched this fall.

Tell us what you think – complete this short feedback survey to share your thoughts on the pilot sites that have been launched so that we can continue to improve them for our users.

James S. Joseph