On May 20, 2015, we launched the first release of our new website, next.berzinarchives.com. As the minimal viable product (MVP), this first version contains 89 English articles – either newly written or re-edited from the old website, as well as guided meditations hosted on SoundCloud. With the essential functionality features in place, it now serves as the framework for the multi-step, iterative development of the site to its full size.
For this first version, the award-winning Berlin based IT studio, Edenspiekermann AG, has created a unique visual style for the website, a new information architecture and content structure, a user interface modeled on main user journeys and extensive user testing, a responsive layout tested to display properly on the most common mobile devices, and a content strategy for working with search engines and social media. In addition, they have developed a new content management system for constructing the website, moved the site to a new hosting, set up and implemented a new mail server, and prepared Google Analytic testing tools to evaluate the new site. Work has already begun on the next phase of development, which will include creation of internal search mechanics and development of a new glossary tool.
During these three months, we have focused our efforts on the new website. We have not neglected, however, work on expanding the content of the old site. We have added 173 new articles and translations, 16 new audio files and 7 new video. The old site received 0.55 million visits during this period.
Many new exciting content and features are on the way with the new site. Thank you for your ongoing support, help in making it all possible.
During the last three months, we have continued expanding the content of the Berzin Archives website. During this period, we completed preparation and put newly online 151 articles, 16 audio files and 6 video files in our 21 language sections, and the website received over 0.5 million visits. We have also completed construction and released online an open source multilingual glossary of Buddhist technical terms used in Berzin Archives. You may explore it through the link given below.
Together with our IT assistant, our project developer and data analyst have continued development of the next release of our internal tools to include invoice management and a task management tool for each language team.
We have contracted the renowned Berlin IT studio Edenspiekermann AG to construct the next version of the website. In the initial workshop with one of their directors, the designer and front-end/back-end programmer who will be responsible for the project, our project developer and data analyst described the requirements for the first sprint. Based on the results of our data analysis of the current version of the website, they analyzed a first solution to its shortcomings. Together, they specified six typical users and defined their goals, chose the technologies to be used in the project and prioritized the main functions that need to be implemented in the first beta version release. The first two-week sprint begins March 3 and the first release is anticipated at the conclusion of four sprints.
For this first release of a minimal viable product (MVP), we have developed a content strategy of 50 key articles in English and have gathered and optimized all key parts for producing it on the new website. We have also started work on a prototype of the first course for the planned Berzin Academy division of the new website. The academy will provide interactive progressive courses for training in emotional intelligence and other key topics drawn from the resources of the archives.
We are very excited about these new developments. Thank you for your continuing support that is helping to make all this possible.
During the last three months, in addition to continuing to expand the content of the Berzin Archives website, we have started to focus more attention and resources on technical development. Therefore, we have hired an experienced data analyst to assist our project manager with the planning and development of the new intranet system for our teams and the next version of the website. Together, they have made an in-depth data analysis of the usage of the present internal resources of the website. This has included the present multi-lingual team glossary and the communication mechanism currently used within and among the language teams. Based on their analysis of the behavioral patterns of the team members, they have drawn up the requirements and started development of the new version of the team glossary and are testing a new work-flow management system and a mechanism for automating invoices and payments. Our technical assistant is concurrently developing a new database for the storage of all the stages of the workflow of the language sections.
In addition, our data analyst and project manager have made an in-depth analysis of the reader usage of the content of the website. This is needed in order to optimize the organization and presentation of the content for the different language groups in the new version of the website. They have then started to gather the requirements for this new version.
Exciting developments lay ahead. Thank you for your continuing support that is helping to make all this possible. You can see the progress we have made in expanding our language sections in the attached file.
During the last three months, we completed the final preparatory steps and put online our twenty-first language section, West Punjabi. This now completes fulfilling His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wish to reach out to the Muslim community in their own languages and share with them his message of religious harmony and basic human values
Our main focus, however, during these months has been on creating an intranet system for the internal use of our 130-member team to facilitate our workflow management. Once completed and implemented, the intranet will enable us to process more efficiently all that will be involved with the preparation and maintenance of the next version (3.0) of the Berzin Archives website.
So far, we have completed automating the procedures for venting and accepting new volunteers. Having interviewed the editors of our most active language sections to learn of the strong and weak points of our present system, we have narrowed down the choice of intranet platforms that can meet our requirements. We need a project management tool for document exchange, recordkeeping, team communication, automated invoices, and automatic easy-to-automate reports. The intranet platform must also be able to incorporate the extensive list of answers to questions regarding words and passages in the website articles as well as the documentation found presently in our internal wiki and must also be able to function as a berzinarchives email server. Shortly, we shall enter our data into the most promising platform and test it with one of our language teams, tweaking the system in accord with their experience or choosing another platform to test in case this first choice proves inadequate.
In addition, also based on the user survey we conducted within our language teams, we are starting to compile the modifications we will need for improving the usability of our present glossary tool. The glossary tool is an extensive 21-language database compiled and used by the translators and editors of our various teams for maintaining consistency of terminology and spelling of proper names. It also automatically generates the online glossaries found on our website.
As you can see, we are methodically laying the foundation and building the structures that will enable us to meet the growing needs of the users of our Berzin Archives website so that we can continue to make the wisdom of Tibet available to all. Thank you for your continuing support that makes this all possible.
Work on expanding the content of the various language sections of the Berzin Archives website has been continuing at a fast rate over these last three months. We have put online our twentieth language section, Persian, and have completed translating and editing all the material necessary for starting our next language section, West Punjabi. The final steps for putting this section online will now begin.
Our project developer and web analyst has now moved to Berlin and we have added a technical writer to our Berlin-based staff. With this expanded technical team, we have begun making an in-depth analysis of our present work-flow protocols and compiling a handbook containing detailed documentation of all the procedures involved. This is in preparation for increasing the efficiency of our web management system and for choosing a computer data base that might automate some of these processes. The aim is to free me of some of the administrative and managerial functions I now perform so that I can focus more on expanding the English content of the website.
As part of the planning phase for the upgrade version of the website, we have continued with user research and analytics through our online survey for improving its usability. We have also undertaken research and analysis of other similar websites to ascertain their strong and weak points, also for helping to optimize the usability of the upgrade version.
On May 14, I met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Frankfurt and reported the progress that has been made on the website project. I then outlined the plans for the upgrade version that will transform the website into an interactive educational tool, offering massive open online courses (MOOC) in a variety of languages. His Holiness was extremely supportive and advised on further topics to include on the website.
The Tibetan tradition holds a vast treasure of knowledge, especially concerning the workings of the mind and emotions. As the guardian of this treasure, His Holiness the Dalai Lama always stresses the importance of sharing this knowledge with the world through educational programs. When combined with the findings of modern science, the wisdom of Tibet can contribute great benefit to the world. With your ongoing support, we can continue to play a role in fulfilling the promise of this enlightened vision.
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