Aptera presented the Allen County Public Library (ACPL) Genealogy Center with a website proposal following the distribution of their request for information. The ACPL Genealogy Center was seeking to develop a new web presence for the organization to better serve their patrons.
The original Genealogy Center website had been created internally and throughout the lifetime of the website had grown into a hodgepodge of links, resources, and information. There was no CMS attached to the website which required the Genealogy Center team to be reliant on the ACPL IT team to manage updates and website additions as needed.
The Genealogy Center is the second largest genealogical library in the United States, and with a younger, emerging generation of active genealogists, Genealogy Center realized that the website needed more than a major facelift. Rather, the website needed an entirely new architecture and added functionality in order to be seen as a viable resource for online enthusiasts.
As the ACPL Genealogy Center looked to the future for a more effective web presence, they laid out specific requirements to guide the direction of the new website and experience. The first and most important requirement dictated that the new web solution would need to have the ability to adapt and expand due to a multi-phase strategy the Genealogy Center desired for the web presence overhaul.
Other required components:
- Searchable online resources
- Online communication functionality
- Donation portal
- News Archive
The requested web solution also needed to have interactive capabilities in order to engage Genealogy Center visitors of any expertise and provide more opportunities for any of the patrons to access the knowledge and experience of the Genealogy Center librarians.
The Genealogy Center was built around Sitefinity because it is an intuitive and easy-to-use content management system. We realize that inter-department relationships and extensive IT workloads do not always make for quick or simple changes. Sitefinity’s user-friendly environment allows non-IT administrators to make changes to the website in a timely and efficient manner.
By empowering the Genealogy Center librarians to control the content of the new website, changes can happen in a matter of minutes rather than a matter of days or even months. By having the ability to make these changes frequently, staff members can easily ensure that the content on the site will be fresh and enticing to researchers, continuously creating a better user experience while earning traffic from repeat visitors. Sitefinity’s usability allows the Genealogy Center to better fulfill its mission to serve the genealogy community and bring family history to life.
Aptera selected the Sitefinity CMS for the Genealogy Center website because of its breadth of out-of-the-box options and functionality. As part of the strategy to revamp their website, the Genealogy Center wanted to include a blog to offer research tips and information for new and seasoned genealogists. The Genealogy Center also wanted to make sure to include an events calendar on the new website to promote the classes, tours and training sessions the center offers on a regular basis.
Of all the changes and additions needed to enhance the Genealogy Center’s web presence, one of the more significant focuses was improving the website’s flow. On the original site, visitors typically came to the site, found the information they needed, and would then leave. Aptera’s goal with the website facelift was to pull users deeper into the website. This would encourage website visitors to discover different sections of the website they might not normally see by using custom calls to action for each page. By utilizing the Shared Content feature in Sitefinity, the Genealogy Center would be able to drag and drop calls to action on each page so visitors keep moving through the site.
From kick off to completion, the Genealogy Center project spanned a time period of five months and involved one designer and two developers. Because of the Sitefinity platform and its ready-to-go features, such as the blog, events calendar, and shared content, Aptera was able to significantly cut down on build time for the site.
Regarding specific statistics, because the Genealogy Center website was already well known and respected within the genealogy community, the traffic hasn’t necessarily increased. There has, however, been a tremendous impact on the usability of the website.
Just over one month has passed since the launch of the GenealogyCenter.org website. We remain very pleased with the look of the site and the response that we have received from our customers. The presentation to our Library Foundation Board went well, and they were amazed and impressed with the difference from our old site. I could tell that they were very proud that foundation money could be used for such a great enhancement.
Author: Curt Witcher Company: Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center