Sprint #2 of 2013

We had a 'soft' release of new features last night at the end of our second design sprint of the year. Here are some of the things we did over this past sprint:

High-wonder pages

We changed the way that 'high-wonder' pages are built (pages for outside audiences that have images in the headers, such as pages in the 'about' section targeted at the general public). To date we had been creating templates for each new high-wonder section and it simply wasn't a scalable approach, so Nathan worked hard to figure out how to build these sections with a new theme architecture.

The Students & Educators section now has imagery too.

New content for the CERN people and Scientists section

We learned from the research we carried out during the last sprint that we needed to rework the Scientists and CERN people sections. We've begun to do this, and we'll be testing new features with a testing panel over the next sprint before refining and releasing updated sections.

Two examples of new content: new feed aggregation sources for the Scientists section, and a 'featured image' for the 'CERN people' section.

New toolbar

We heard about implementation problems for the CERN toolbar from developers of other CERN sites and applications, so we have reworked and simplified the toolbar. Read more about these changes here.

Maintenance mode theme

There will be times when we will need to take the site offline briefly in order to perform scheduled maintenance and updates - and we also need to prepare for the possibility of having a technical failure that brings the site offline. So we spent some time reworking what happens in these circumstances, and we tested taking the site offline for a short period yesterday. At such times the directory will remain available.

At times when the site is unvailable due to scheduled maintenance we will show a pared-down page with information about why the site is offline with a link to the directory.

Search 

We worked on the placement and styling of the search input form.  Having the form at the top right of the viewport (on desktop) was encouraging 'search first' behaviour, and the search engine just isn't delivering on the expectations that this sets - yet. We moved the search form to the bottom of the right sidebar, and we worked on the search results page so that users have clear pointers on how to broaden the scope of a search. 

Translation

We are slowly catching up with all the content that needs to be translated - our colleagues in the translation and minutes group are doing a terrific job. We are gradually implementing the language switcher in more places: you can now find it on every section homepage.

Bugs

We squished a few bugs, and introduced a few new ones - namely for users of old Internet Explore (versions 6 and 7). We'll keep fixing these things over the next month.

What next?

The focus of the next sprint, which begins next week and runs for two weeks, is to rework the CERN people section and the section for scientists. We want to make these pages feel a lot more dense and with a higher rate of flow of content.

In March we will be 'switching off' the current CERN public website and redirecting all off-campus traffic to http://cern.ch to the new site.

We still aim to have a final release of the site by the end of March.

We impale issues from our sprint backlog on this spike in the office once we have dealt with them - it's a satisfying reminder of all the little things we are addressing. The stack grew quite a bit over the last sprint!

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