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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Got Docs? A Solution for Document Management

We recently had a client with a major problem. They had about 1500 files that included video, images, and documents. These files were very valuable to their website users, and essential for them to be able to access and download. They contained technical procedures, requirements, and installation instructions. Unfortunately they had no way to manage these assets, thus creating a very labor intense process to get them on the website in an intuitive, searchable fashion for their website visitors.

Their old website had a search engine that didn't search the body of documents, didn't classify or organize the files in any fashion, and wasn't able to group files by subject matter. In addition, there was no way to secure or password protect any files.

District Agency proposed a plan to build a custom "Asset Management Module" within their Content Management System. The idea of the Asset Management Module was to create the capabilities to do the following within the Content Management System:

  • Upload document/media file to the server to access from the website
  • Convert all movie files to Flash so they could play within one movie player and have consistent width and height ratios
  •  Input specific document/media file information such as:
    • publish date
    • expiration date
    •  summary
    •  keywords
  • Classify each document/media file within three(3) unique areas:
    • Categories (i.e. legal, technical, human resources, etc.)
    • Subject Tags: We create an additional module called Search Tags. This was a module that allowed us to create subject tags, and assign documents to the subjects that were appropriate. This was beneficial for users on the website when searching for documents. For instance they could simply check the subject tag box that said "Technical Procedures", and every document or file that was tagged with that subject would display.
    • Groups: We created an additional module called groups. Each group had a unique login to the website. If a document was assigned to a group(s) users would need to have the proper credentials to login and view the document. If the document was not assigned to a group(s), the default was the EVERYONE group, which would allow the document to show up on the website. This functionality allowed the website administrators to create password protected areas on the fly (infinite amount). This is a huge benefit for organizations who want different users to see different information (i.e. employees, clients, committees, etc.)

On the front-end (the website), usability became very intuitive. We created a webpage with 3 tabs; Videos, Images, and Documents. Users could click the tab of the type of file they wished to access, and they would see a unique interface for each file type. Video files played in a flash video player and files could be searched and sorted by category, subject, most watched, and most commented. Images could also be sorted by category and subject. Images displayed using AJAX, and slide show capabilities, offering website users a very slick and modern approach to image galleries. Documents appeared in a list format and could be sorted by category, subject, and date published.

Within the Content Management System we created an archive capability that kept document management an easy task. The end product was a vast improvement over their previous site. We watched the site statistics the following 6 months. We saw bounce rates decrease, time on site increase, and # of pages increase.