Building an effective library website: Some things you need to consider…

December 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm (Libraries, Library 2.0, Web Design) (, , , )

Here are several things that you need to consider when planning a new – or updating a old – library website.

1. Have easy to use navigation panels and links displayed throughout the website for the user’s convenience.  This includes horizontal navigation bars, sidebar navigation panels and breadcrumb links.

2. Place a keyword search feature into the template design so that it shows on every page displayed. This will assist users in locating the resources and collections available to them with minimum effort on their part.

The final application and use of criterion 1 and 2 within the web design and template should be determined by the age and mental ability of the intended audience. See criteria 5 for more information.

3. Make sure every page is clear and uncluttered to promote the easy location of user relevant and sought materials.

4. Use dynamic content to draw the user’s eye and attention to current or new items of interest.

5. Use different template designs for different audience types or age groups. For example; the children web pages should be brightly coloured with large, easy to use icons and limited text. Whereas the design for adults should display less images and colour but use more dynamically driven content – promoting new collection additions or library services and information.

6. Ensure the design is suitable for display on multiple devices such as a desktop PC, laptops and netbooks and mobile devices.

7. Always include usability testing in the design process. Usability testing is essential for identifying and resolving any user issues and negative experiences with the website design or navigation before full public access is made available.

8. Incorporate several ways for users to contact library staff.  Use free or low costing applications, tools and widgets to provide online reference services, contact us and web/video conferencing communication avenues which allow and promote open communication channels.

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