Going mobile

By Binky Lush
Libraries’ Mobile Site Usage
The number of mobile visits to the full Penn State University Libraries site is growing steadily. In FY2010/2011 we had 27,000 mobile visitors. In FY 2011/2012 that number increased to 72,000 on 145 different devices ranging from iPhones and Androids to Kindles and Galaxy Tablets. A little over halfway through FY2012/2013, our mobile visits are already up to 148,000!

As many of you know, the first iteration of the Libraries mobile site was developed in conjunction with Emerging Technologies (a unit of ITS) and is integrated into the Penn State mobile site (http://m.psu.edu). It includes a mobile search (LionSearch), computer availability, library hours and locations and links to mobile optimized databases. As the use of mobile devices grows, so does the need for more robust mobile content. Some people may only ever use their mobiles to find the closest computer or find the Libraries hours, but more and more users want to access the full libraries website content and a great user experience – all on their mobile device!

screenshot of mobile site

Responsive Design: An optimized experience for all devices!
In order to make our entire Libraries site available to all of our users on any device, we are developing a “responsive design.” Responsive design is an approach to web site development that is based on screen sizes – making the site flex­i­ble and tailored to what­ever device our patrons choose to use. Our site will auto­mat­i­cally for­mat to a wide vari­ety of screen sizes by expanding and contracting, and dynamically resizing – from a smart­phone to a desk­top, and any­thing in between. Nav­i­ga­tion, design and form lay­out will shift and resize to be optimized for the device upon which it is viewed. The site will work with mul­ti­ple devices with­out redi­rect­ing users to dif­fer­ent ver­sions of the same site, keeping URLs consistent. It will be optimized for all devices and screen sizes, including those that are not yet on the market.

Examples of responsive design on three screen sizes

Examples of responsive design on three screen sizes

When will our site be fully responsive?
The CMS Development Team is currently in the final stages of responsive development. We’ll be doing testing and bug fixes with the Author Expert Team and the rest of I-Tech through the end of March, with the goal of making the production site fully responsive shortly after finals week in the beginning of May.

Here’s where you come in!
Once we’ve finished our in-house testing, we’ll be asking all of the Libraries to test the responsive site in beta – to try it on your mobile devices and put it through its paces. Your testing help and feedback will be critical in making sure the responsive site is ready for prime time in early May. Look for the call for testing at the beginning of April!

We’d love to hear them – we’re excited about our new responsive site and love to talk about it, so please ask! ul-cms-dev@lists.psu.edu