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Saturday, August 27, 2011

BEFORE&AFTER: Pittsburg State University Catalog

You probably already know that Pittsburg State University recently launched their new online course catalog, which is our first implementation of CatalogM.

What you probably don't know, unless you actually WENT to Pitt State recently, work on the Pitt State website, or you have a really weird affliction for course catalogs (which is another story for another day), is what the catalog used to look like and how that process was managed.

Well, my friends, you are in luck.

Click here to see before and after pictures we posted on our Facebook page.

While the previous PSU catalog didn't really look bad, it was incredibly difficult for the Registrar's Office to keep up with, there was no search, it wasn't managed using a database and wasn't "connected" to the print catalog, and the navigation could have really used some work.

These are the biggest things we wanted to help them achieve were:

  • To put it simply, PSU needed a better way to manage both their print and online catalog (previously, there had been quite a long, long paper trail).

  • A more automated process: menus and catalog structure should be rendered automatically, any updates made to course catalog content should update the all instances of that item in the catalog, instead of having to go and update each individual item manually, the ability to print the catalog on-demand, etc.

  • A catalog website that would fit in seamslessly with the university website.

  • Better Navigation. This was a big one.

  • Search. PSU needed a way to allow students to globally search the catalog for course and degree information.

  • Ability to have complete control over the catalog hierarchy and structure.

  • Ability to determine custom fields for each type of catalog item from college, department, program, degree, or course.

    And there were a lot of others...
We were able to meet all of these needs - and guess what: instead of updating the catalog every two years, as they had in the past, the awesome folks at PSU will now have an annual catalog.

The good thing is, with our extensive background and experience in other similar academic systems, we are better able to handle the unique needs that come up. Every university is different, so what worked for PSU probably won't work perfectly for another university. But the cool thing is: We Welcome It.

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