First, we’d like to extend a big Thank You to everyone who’s shared comments and feedback on the upcoming LibGuides v2 release. We’re thrilled with the early feedback from the Sneak Peek webinars, because if you can believe it, LibGuides v2 is *just the beginning*. We’re committed to updating all of Springshare’s apps with the same user-friendly themes in mind. Usability is important to us, so we’re thrilled to bring you new features like point-and-click content creation, simple yet powerful customization, and solid infrastructure improvements in all of Springshare’s products. Trust us when we say these are some of our very favorite things, no Sound of Music intended. 🙂
In that spirit, we’ve been hard at work on several big improvements for LibChat, and we’re thrilled to release them just in time for the holidays. This release is all about ease and simplicity – it offers a great mix of time saving features, new functionality, and performance improvements. Please make sure to clear your browser cache to ensure you’re seeing fresh content.
Redesigned Widget Builder
We’ve redesigned the widget builders from the ground up! To see it in action, head to Admin Stuff > LibChat > System Chat Widgets (if you’re an admin) or LibChat > Personal Chat Widgets; you’ll find all of the same options you love, plus a bevy of new customization and time-saving features:
- Save your widgets – Reusing custom widgets is about to get a whole lot easier! Just name your widget and click Save, and LibChat will store your widget for easy reuse, later editing, etc.
- Point-and-click customization – Click on the visual preview image to select the text (or color, or setting) you want to change, and you’ll see a dialog window that captures your custom info. Point, click, done!
- Guided Settings – LibChat offers tons of widgets, settings, and options, and we wanted to streamline those options for maximum discoverability. That inspired us to reorganize all of LibChat’s options, making it easier to find and use the settings you need.
New Widget Options
Cause really, what’s a new widget builder without some cool new functionality? We’ve added several of the most popular feature requests from the past year, including:
- New Widget: Bottom Slide – You’ve seen the “Ask Us” sliders on the left and right of the browser pane, but what about the bottom? Our new widget positions your Ask Us widget at the bottom of the pane. This positions one-click librarian assistance in context with the main content area of the page, without obscuring page content.
- Multiple Widget Support – Want to add multiple chat widgets on a page? Maybe you have a site-wide slider and an in-page embedded chat, or multiple personal chat widgets in one spot. With this update, you’ll be able to add as many widgets on a page as you’d like.
- Question Fields – We’ve made it easier to collect introductory information on the patrons you chat with! Ask up to 3 text-response and multiple choice questions; ask anything from “Is this for a course?” to “What’s your favorite type of cookie?”.
- Streamlined Anonymous Chat – If your chat widget permits users to chat anonymously, we’ve made it easier for your incognito patrons to start a chat by removing the need to click a special checkbox. We’ve removed the warning message, lowering the barriers to entry for the stealthy (or shy) questioners out there.
- ARIA tags – Our widgets are taking a new leap forward in accessibility, thanks to the inclusion of ARIA (Accessible Rich Internet Applications Suite) tags. These tools are designed to help make dynamic web applications (like the LibChat widgets) more accessible to users who rely on screen readers.
Librarian Operator Panel
We hope you don’t think this update is all about the flashy new Widget Builder, cause we’ve got more surprises in store. This update also includes some pretty sweet improvements to help you monitor your system’s connectivity and keep in touch with your colleagues:
- Start a Group Chat – Grab a quick consult with your resident subject experts – just click Group Chat to start a conversation. Tag as many folks as you’d like to join in – it’s great for everything from discussing tricky reference questions to pinging your circulation buddy to see if the novel you’re waiting on showed up in the book drop.
- Updated (and improved) Status area – View all of the conversations happening in your system, in real time! The new Status area made the information in the “Visitors Online” area redundant, so we’ve streamlined the screen to show more relevant information in the main pane.
- Status area now shows Past & Present – And coming soon, the Future! (…eh, maybe not ;). When you log in to LibChat, you’ll see all of the chats currently in progress, including those that may have started before you logged in to LibChat.
- Join Chats in Progress – Now that you can see all of the patron chats happening in your system, we thought we’d make it easy to join those conversations! You’ll see a new “Join” link on each live chat listing – click it to jump into that chat.
- Connection Status Updates – Both librarians and patrons can monitor their chat session connection in real time, via new alerts in the operator and chat windows.
- Lost Connection? Reconnect! – Our developers have added some serious horsepower under Libchat’s hood. If a chat in progress drops unexpectedly, our new transport layer is there to save the day and reestablish the connection!
Remember, we’re just getting started – we’re gearing up for a bigger LibAnswers announcement this January, where we’ll share more exciting redesign goodness. As always, a big thank you goes out to everyone who shared ideas for this update – it’s always a pleasure to hear from you!