Customer Q & A with Lola Taylor of Physical Facilities
What do you do for Physical Facilities?
My official title is Office Specialist, but I am the graphic designer and content manager for Physical Facilities and provide Administrative support to Ole Smith, the Assistant Administrative Vice President of Physical Facilities. Since I’ve taken on the website and our new digital signage system, I’ve also gained the title of web and digital signage administrator. We all wear so many hats at BYU!
You reached out right away after BYU Websites was announced. What was the situation with Physical Facilities’ website at the time?
The old Physical Facilities website was a student project that was created around 2006. Only a few of the pages were actively updated, so most of the page content was out of date. I actually mentioned my concerns about how difficult it was to find information on the plantwo.byu.edu website during my job interview in October 2018, as it is the first place I go to learn about an organization. When Ole Smith found out that I had previous website experience as a content manager (as a student with BYU OIT, a grad student at SUU, and with Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts, and Parks department), they asked me to take on the task of overhauling our website.
In February 2019, we had decided to build the new Physical Facilities website in Drupal, but ran into server and scripting language communication problems with our existing systems and weren’t able to make much headway. I read about the new BYU Websites system in March and was thrilled to have a new option that I would not have to maintain on my own and would include a built-in support network. After a few meetings with Nate Walton, I was hooked and eagerly jumped on board to build our new and improved website through BYU Websites.
My goal with our new site was to make it very obvious from the first page what we do at Physical Facilities and how to start a work order or service request with our department, which is primarily why people come to us. I wanted to improve our user experience with work order and service request submissions, to make it easier to communicate with Physical Facilities and find the right person to help with their project. Brightspot, the BYU Websites CMS, integrates an amazing search bar that helps us greatly improve a user’s ability to find what they need at Physical Facilities, as we have almost 50 web pages to ensure every department and area is represented. There is so much that we do, and I hope this new website makes it’s easier for people to see that at a glance.
What went into your decision to entirely revamp the Physical Facilities website instead of migrating what you already had?
The plantwo.byu.edu website was outdated and did not adhere to the BYU brand. The page content needed to be updated and the whole website needed a facelift, so we decided it would be easier to rebuild from scratch instead of trying to salvage what we could from the old web pages. This allowed us to be intentional about what we wanted to say and how we say it, to really dive deep and determine how people interact with Physical Facilities and what information they wanted and needed to know. We created more transparent content so it is more clear what Physical Facilities does and who does it. We also changed the domain from plantwo.byu.edu to pf.byu.edu so it more accurately described who we are now.
The training videos provided by BYU Websites are invaluable for a new user, regardless of skill level, to learn how to do anything from building basic page content to creating more complicated submission forms or adding CAS (Net ID) authentication to sections of your website.
What’s your overall impression of this content management system?
I have used several CMS systems throughout my various web projects as a content manager. I have not had formal web training, so all of my CMS knowledge has been gained through these past on-the-job projects. While there is a slight learning curve with Brightspot, it is much easier to design in this CMS than any other I’ve worked with. There is no fear of stepping outside the BYU branded template because there are pre-determined design block options that help maintain a cohesive look through all of the pages on the BYU websites.
What’s your favorite feature?
I love how easy it is to use and how simple it is to create great looking designs. The page preview feature saved me a lot of time when determining the best way to design and place content on a new webpage. I also appreciate that the built-in search bar delivers relevant results with no extra work. The old plantwo.byu.edu website did not have search capabilities, which made it harder to find what you were looking for. This new search bar makes it 100% easier to quickly find what you need.
What’s something you’d like to incorporate into the website that you don’t have yet?
Something else I would like to see implemented is the ability to create reactive forms, so the form questions will change based on how a person answers certain questions. Nate informed me there is a potential solution coming in January, so I hope their new solution will allow us to continue to improve the Physical Facilities request forms.