Our story with the redesign of the OpenMRS website has been going on for some time. During the 1.5 years of work on their site, we have already written several articles that are updates, information about progress and plans for the future. Now, however, we would like to summarize this period and boast about our success, which is the publication of the OpenMRS website. Hurray!
At the beginning of 2020, Jennifer (Community Director) wrote to me and offered to work on redesigning their website. We were supposed to work in a small team of several people and publish a new website together within six months. The plan was to rewrite the content – the text, headings and content of each page to better fit the new design, be shorter, more concise and not contain unnecessary information. Unfortunately, our plan was quickly verified, and it was impossible to prepare the content for the website within that time, let alone the entire website. We managed to prepare the website architecture, reviewed the layout of the pages on the old website and updated reorganized this content on the new website.
According to the original plan, we were to publish a new website in July. In fact, we were deep in the woods with work. In June, we worked on personas – these are groups of people visiting our website who are categorized according to certain criteria (e.g. interests, place of residence, age or the purpose with which they visit the website). We distinguished 4 main groups: donors, supporting organizations (such as SolDevelo), contributors (like developers) and ministers (i.e. members of the government). Later, described each of these groups in detail in order to best match the website to their needs.
When we had done that, we also started collecting opinions from community members, our own experiences and trends that are “on the market”. All this to create a board of our “I like” and “I don’t like”, which will be used in choosing the template that we will use to build the website. The most valuable experience turned out to be browsing the websites and listing by each person what they like about this page and what they don’t.
Unfortunately, at the end of the year, the work on the website slowed down considerably, and I got the impression that we never build this website. Tired of waiting, procrastinating, and the lack of visible progress, Jakub and I decided to build an OpenMRS website on the Foundation’s domain (you can still look at it on this address: https://soldevelofoundation.org/openmrs.org/). The plan was to create and build an almost ready to publish website and then move it to the target server. The plan was great because I could work on that website in my free time, implemented all the things which we talked about with the Team and Jennifer and show them the results.
At the beginning of January this year, we had a website mock-up for OpenMRS. We decided to announce on the community forum that we were not idle during the holidays, and we significantly accelerated the work. After all, before Christmas, the decision which template we use was still not made, let alone about other details on the site. There was still a lot of work to do, but it was the first big step towards the publication of the new website.
For a few months after we disclosed our work (I don’t know if everyone at OpenMRS was satisfied with it), we used the website on the Foundation’s domain. This was due to the problems we encountered before moving the page to the destination. The beta site was not completely prepared for a new instance, it had old WordPress, out-of-date files on the server and a lot of problems, including for some reason not working export/import, which in the end resulted in a delay of almost a month. We worked on technical matters (it took a long time and many e-mails before we got access and could start working). Cintia went out of her way to help us and make sure we could move the page, and Burke helped with problems when neither of them knew the answer anymore. The work of many people, with a slight delay after more than a year of work, the new OpenMRS website was almost on the target site, it was at least one and the same domain. After moving the website from the Foundation’s domain to beta.openmrs.org, the work took off. I spent most of my time on this project to make sure we could publish the page as soon as possible. And it worked!
We can officially announce that the new OpenMRS website is being released. Fortunately, its transfer was faster and easier than the beta, and we could watch a beautifully presented new website in just one weekend. I am extremely proud of us, the team we are creating with Jennifer and Grace, the fact that it has been going on for a year and a half and the work is still going on (and there’s no end in sight). It is also a great success for the Foundation, as it was mainly us who built the new website, took care of its design and functionality. We are glad that the publication is behind us because now we can focus on improving the website, adding new functionalities and developing it.