March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog
Laura Solomon, Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN)
Alexandra Zealand, Social Media Coordinator & News Blog Editor;
Stacia Aho, Library Webmaster;
Jonathan Newton, Library Web Programmer, Arlington Public Library
Don't waste your homepage - Laura Solomon
The library homepage is the most important part of your website - here are some tips for the best use of the space
- Spell it out - patrons don't know library acronyms and jargon. Spell it out, at least the first time you use it
- Don't be wordy, or use large blocks of text
- Mission statements are important to libraries and trustees, but not to patrons, so don't put it on your homepage (nor lists of staff or board names)
- Weed your graphics - graphic loads take time and slow things down and clutter up pages - they need to be meaningful and have a point. And anything you do use, optimize for web
- Don't use clipart - it undermines your professionalism (even using stock photography is better)
- Be careful about using widgets and gadgets - people don't come to the library website to check the weather or news feeds
- Don't use exclamation points!!! They are not professional!!1!
- Your homepage above the fold is your prime real estate - don't cover it with a welcome mat (if they weren't welcome, it would be password protected)
- Don't put a picture of your library on the homepage - your building is not your product
- Put your library's phone number and address on your homepage
- Label all the links to pdf as [pdf] - don't surprise people with huge downloads
Community Engagement on a Shoestring - Arlington VA Public Library
Case study of how they went from municipal website to library-specific website with integrated content to focus on patron needs and use:
- First, convince county IT department to let library have a branded header with its own logo
- Use links on homepage to direct people to library's blog, which looks like real website but is easier to update and control - this keeps the homepage and makes it useful
- Important static information stays on the static site, in case blogger blog went away
- Content on blog is basically news and events - things that would have been press releases
Tools used were all free
- Blogger - easy to use (got for less tech-savvy staff), supports tags, and supports...
- Yahoo Pipes to create news feeds based on tags - use tags to filter information for each branch, so branches can have their own identity and patrons fell more connected with hyper-local information - feeds sometimes get picked up by local news outlets, which drives a ton of traffic, and some people become regular readers
- Feedburner to embed feeds into homepage
- But keep in mind: the tools aren't always enough - you need good practice, staff, content, and integration
- Huge increase in comments and patron participation
- Staff better understands patrons' point of view
- More staff involvement and investment in public image
March 21st, 2011 Brian Herzog
Amanda Etches-Johnson, Head, Discovery & User Access, Univ. of Guelph
Aaron Schmidt, Consultant, Influx Library User Experience
Two areas of websites we don't have easy control over
Websites must be three things:
Our Content Strategy (planning the creation, deliver and conveyance of UUD content) must address this question: What do people want to do on our site?
- Identify your critical tasks
- Spend a few minutes each day just asking people what they want to do, and whether or not you're meeting their needs
- Perform a content audit - not just pages, but the images and information on each page (cataloger, being detailed oriented, are good at this). Is each page: accurate, usefulness, used, web-written, on message, last updated. Rate each piece on a scale of 0-2 to identify areas to keep, remove or improve.
- Smaller is better
- Websites should not be junk drawers - "just in case" is not the right approach
- Design your website around your FAQs - if it's on an FAQ, it doesn't get on the site
- Write for the Web - we keep hearing that people generally don't read on the web (though this might be changing with tablets and larger mobile devices). What people do is Function Reading - skim to find what's important to them
- Write with a conversation and friendly tone, not like a policy document
- Put the most important stuff at the top of the page
- Use bolded headlines, bullets, and white space - it is easier to scan - be sure to use white space correctly to group related headlines/content
- Use simple urls: http://library.org/kids vs. http://library.org/kids/pages/content.php?p=423
- One idea per sentence (fragments okay), not too big, bot too small, never all-caps, use active voice, correct contrast
- Refer to library as "we" and patrons as "you" or "I" - good example "How do I reset my PIN?"
- Never use "click here" - make the link text meaningful ("Search Catalog" instead of "Click here to search the catalog")
- Do usability testing - You can find this out by simply watching people use the website - walk out, ask a patron if they have a minute, give them a task ("use our website to find a receipe" or "can you find out our branch's Tuesday closing time on Tuesday") and then watch them
- Use Google Optimizer to test multiple versions of pages with the same content, to see what content is important and which design works best
It's also important to have a mobile version of your website. Visit Influx.us/onepage - a library website template that puts this idea into practice - works on mobile devices
- Choose a good color palette - use a professional, use a free website color matcher, etc
- Don't use clipart
- Use common conventions, grid layout, pre-made themes from the community
- Make content interesting - example: transmissions between NASA control and space flights presented in back-and-forth Twitter-like conversation
- Make it convenient - definitely a mobile-friendly version
- Marketing: put your stuff out there, and keep at it
Four Stages of Library Website Development
One builds on the other, and you can't move up until you finish the lower levels (like Maslov's Hierarchy)
Necessary information, relevant functionality, no major usability issues
Destination (a "destination website")
Librarian-created content, basic interactivity
Serious user generated content, patrons creating culture - library acts as the aggregator, and patrons have reason to do this here, instead of somewhere else
example: Hennapin County bookspace
Library website as community platform, the website becomes a community knowledge bank (tool like this is Kete)
Reduce your site by half - it doesn't mean you have bad content, but people cant find it because there is too much to look through - bit.ly/smallsites
Tags: aaron schmidt, amanda etches-johnson, cil11, cil2011, computers in libraries, conference, librarian, Library, presentation, user experience, ux, web design
December 9th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Do you know what I enjoy more than telling people where the bathroom is? Shopping.
In case anyone is pestering you for gift ideas, they could read How To Get Good Gifts for Librarians, or use the links below to find something for the librarian in their life.
- Typographic Note Cards from my cousin Tom's collections at studiotwentysix2
- One of my favorite t-shirts
- PLA's online shop, including the cookery apron
- Make a year-end donation to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and help fight for freedom
- Help out Cory Doctorow's self-publishing experiment, With a Little Help
- Support a library school student's effort to raise money for his graduation with a Tattooed Librarians of the Pacific Northwest calendar. Other calendars: Librarian: The Original Search Engine and Library due date calendar
- Unshelved's online store - I wear my Library Raid jacket all the time (thanks Tim)
- Assorted book- and librarian-themed items at Etsy, CafePress, Zazzle, BookLoverTshirts.com, GiftsForAGeek.com
- As seen on Swiss Army Librarian: Kate Spade book bags, Seuss Army Knife shirt, Swiss Army Librarian sticker (still available for free!)
- For more tech-oriented ideas, BoingBoing's Holiday Gift Guide has some fun and unusual suggestions
- Update: Barbarian Librarian's Booty Shop - gifts for book people with attitude
- Update 2: More awesomeness from Boing Boing - their Charitable Giving Guide, the 2010 edition, with donation ideas such as Creative Commons, The Internet Archive, and The Gutenberg Project. And don't forget Wikipedia
- Update 3: Librarian Lump of Coal Gift Guide 2010 from 100 Scope Notes - these are great, but my favorite is the squashed rat bookmark
- Update 4: I'm sorry I forgot this one: give someone a gift membership to LibraryThing.com - 1-year or lifetime
And finally, the Washington Post's fiction critic picks special gifts for the book lover (via LISNews):
Tags: book, Books, christmas, gift, gifts, holiday, idea, ideas, librarian, libraries, Library, present, presents
November 4th, 2010 Brian Herzog
Language is fascinating to me. I'm particularly interested in the idea that our brains are shaped by the language we use to interpret our environments and communicate - and therefore, people of different cultures do perceive the world differently.
So, apropos of absolutely nothing, here are the translations for a few library-related words, according to the Babel Fish translator.
Something else neat is that other language can be clever sources of product names - who among us wouldn't buy into a chat reference product called "Referencia?" But my favorite is the word for librarian - "bibliotecario" - I think I might change my business cards.
Tags: book, different, information, language, languages, librarian, librarians, Library, public, reading, terms, translation, words
August 31st, 2010 Brian Herzog
Sometimes when I am working on a post, I wonder if another library blogger has already covered it - an am afraid I'll look kind of dumb rehashing something.
So I thought, wouldn't it be great to set up a Google custom search engine to search all library-related blogs? Before I did, I checked if anyone already created one, and it turned out Library Zen had - four years ago (I'm even further behind than I thought).
LISZEN Search searches over 500 library blogs, and has an accompanying wiki to keep track. If you write about the library world, add yourself.
Something related that would also be nice is a custom search of just library websites - so it would be easy to quickly see what other library's policies are regarding ebooks, or circulating laptops, or how much they charge for printing, etc. But considering the breadth of libraries and the complexity of maintaining it, just using regular Google might be more realistic.
Tags: blog, blogs, co-op, cse, custom search engine, google, librarian, librarians, libraries, Library, liszen, public, search, Websites
December 15th, 2009 Brian Herzog
Jessamyn links to an interesting article about Google's switch to personalized searching - really, check it out, because it will impact patrons using public computers.
But it also reminded me of how much more prevalent Google's autocomplete feature has seemed lately. I know it's been around for awhile, but I've noticed it more for some reason, and have also been seeing it in Google's ads on Hulu.com (which I oddly could not find to link to), failblog, YouTube* and elsewhere.
So I got curious about what the Google zeitgeist would say about library-related phrases - here's what I found:
(a children's book)
(They just check out? They get weeded? They become overdue?)
And I had to try this too:
(I think most of these are Family Guy references.)
Update 1/11/10: Using Google suggestions, check out the difference between what girlfriends and boyfriends are thinking.
*The one at 2:39 is my favorite. Actually, a lot of them are probably song lyrics, but how often do you come across a Dead Milkmen reference?