When we launched the current version of the ALA website (www.ala.org) last fall, we stressed that there would be ongoing usability assessment followed by reworkings to the site, both minor and visible, from time to time.
A few months ago we moved all of the offices that had been in “hqops” to the directory with the other offices, so that all would be accessible in the same way. We’ve added additional links–notably to @ your library and the Legislative Action Center (“Take Action”) to the “Related” drop-down on the tool bar. Four divisions (AASL, ACRL, PLA, and RUSA) have redesigned their sections of the site, using many of the same usability techniques as on the main site.
Changes like these are consistent with current thinking on website redesign–see “The Quiet Death of a Major Relaunch,” by Jared M. Spool for some discussion. We conduct user surveys, do card sorts, and hold focus group sessions at ALA’s semiannual conferences to evaluate our needs and decisions. Which is to say: The ALA website will continually evolve. It’s not just that new material will be added; it’s also that dated material will be removed and archived, confusing navigation will be reworked, and sometimes whole sections redone.
At launch we had a “Professional Resources” area, which was a set of “tagged” pages gathering material from around the site into several broad librarianship categories (Collections, Type of Library, etc.). These pages simply were not working as intended. So, the whole area has been reworked, consolidating the topical tagged pages into a “Topics A-Z.”
These, of course, are not every topic of interest to librarians, or those interested in libraries, but the ones that show up in our search logs, our reference inquiry logs, headings in the ALA Editions catalog, etc. Some topics are simply links to the main area of the site for that topic, such as Advocacy; some topics link to specific page, such as Mailing Lists; and others pages with explanatory text and annotated links to relevant materials.
There are more changes in the works … watch for them!