Starting next month, ContentDepot users will notice a complete redesign of the web portal, with a redesigned user interface and new features that will make it easier, quicker and more efficient. (For a list of upgrades, please see last month’s edition of EsPRSSo.)
To shed some light on the portal upgrade, EsPRSSo spoke with Laura Jensen, Deputy Director of Quality Assurance and Functional Design, who was responsible for managing the business requirements and implementation of the new portal.
What are the biggest changes users will see with this portal upgrade?
The most obvious visual change will be the design of the portal user interface. The portal will look different, cleaner, and more contemporary, and the size of the screen will adjust to the size of your monitor. We’ve also made several improvements to streamline routine tasks that people perform, which we’ll discuss in more detail below.
Will we still be able to run the current iterations of ContentDepot? For how long?
We plan to keep the old portal running in parallel with the new system for a couple of months. Any changes made in one portal will appear in the other. That is, they are sharing all data, so stations and producers do not have to maintain multiple copies of their data during the transition. Users should also be able to log into either portal during the transition unless their permissions are modified to only allow access to the new portal.
We currently plan to turn the old portal off by October 2014.
What was the impetus for these changes?
We had three primary goals:
1) The old portal is built on a technology framework that is expensive and difficult to maintain, which has limited our ability to make improvements. We’ve written the code to move it off of that legacy architecture. Some additional benefits of this work make the new site faster, more scalable, and easier to update going forward.
2) We took this opportunity to also redesign the interface with more modern design standards and technologies while striving to improve the overall user experience.
3) Last but not least, we collected feedback from many producers and stations to identify the highest priority enhancements, and we’ve incorporated many of those into this initial version. Once we are fully on the new architecture and have turned the old portal off, we expect to address other wish list items going forward.
Will stations and producers require new training? What resources will be available?
Overall, concepts haven’t changed significantly in the new portal, so the goal is that it should be more intuitive. We plan to offer two webinars to familiarize people with the site – one targeting station staff and another for producers. The PRSS Help Desk is always available to answer any questions, and we can organize additional webinars and even individual demos as needed. Additionally, there are help links in the new portal to documentation that will give you an overview of how to use the new site.
Did you work with members of the PRSS community on this initiative?
Yes, we worked with approximately one hundred station and producer beta testers to help us test out the site, and their perspective and assistance was absolutely invaluable. We really do want to sincerely thank the station and producer staff who provided feedback and participated in beta testing along the way. Their enthusiasm, diligence, and generosity with their time have kept this project moving, and we look forward to working with them on future system enhancements.
When will PRSS members be able to begin using the new portal?
We wanted to make sure that stations and producers didn’t have to deal with any new processes during the 4th of July holiday, so we’re hoping to make the URL for the new site public the week of July 7. We will be sure to communicate this widely once we’ve confirmed the final date.
Will the subscription process be different?
The overall process of searching for and subscribing to a program is fundamentally the same for single hour programs. We have made some improvements to speed up the basic process. The biggest change will be subscribing to multiple hour programs (e.g., BBC (APM) World Service; NPR Newscasts; Classical 24; Radio Bilingue, etc.).
In the old portal, a station had to individually navigate to each program hour to subscribe. When the new portal transition is completed, stations will be able to manage all hours of one of these multiple hour series on one subscription page.
Will stations need new equipment? Is there any chance some PCs that can run the current CD will not be able to run the new CD?
We do not anticipate that staff will need new equipment; however, we do know that there are producers and stations that still run very old PC’s and Macs. The older the computer operating system and browser, the less ideal the experience may be.
As I said before, we had close to one hundred station and producer beta testers help us test out the site (including some on very old equipment), so we’re cautiously optimistic, but we’ll wait until all customers have had a chance to use the site. If anyone experiences issues, she/he should always contact the PRSS Help Desk, and we will work with you to see what can be done.
How will their upload experience change?
The new episode segment upload interface does not launch a Java application. Producers will no longer have to deal with the headaches of maintaining proper Java versions and being blocked from uploading when security patches are required. The new upload will provide progress bars with the status of each segment.
For producers who prefer to upload multiple segments at the same time, we are enhancing a multiple episode queue. Again, since there are wide variations in producer computers and local Internet services, we are prepared to troubleshoot any initial issues producers may have with upload. Producers should contact the PRSS Help Desk to report any upload concerns.
Is there a danger a file they want to keep will be automatically deleted?
We are giving producers a new option to automatically delete files a month to six months after the air window for an episode has ended. This would automate routine file maintenance that producers currently have to do manually. However, this automatic delete feature is optional, and the default is that files will not be deleted. So producers can make a determination about whether they want to continue to manually manage their files based on the needs of their individual programs.
Will this lead to any changes in timing of uploading programs/segments?
The existing upload deadlines and recommendations remain in place and are not changing.
How will this affect Content Exchanges?
Content exchanges will look slightly different, but the core features have not changed. We still provide automatic notifications to members when pieces are uploaded. We have added the automatic file deletion option to exchanges as well, so that a person posting a piece to the exchange can decide if it should be automatically deleted and when. This will keep exchanges from filling up with outdated files that have to be manually removed. This will also make the exchange pages faster to load.
Training Webinars for Stations, Producers Scheduled for July
Two webinars have been scheduled, one geared toward stations and another for producers, to provide an overview of the changes to ContentDepot and a hands-on demonstration of how to navigate the new portal design. Both sessions will be led by Laura Jensen.
The station-focused session will be held on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, from 3:00 PM ET to 4:00 PM ET. To register for this session, please click here: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/492086262
The producer-focused session will be held on Wednesday, July 16, 2014, from 3:00 PM ET to 4:00 PM ET. To register for this session, please click here: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/337101230