Monday, December 26, 2016

Library Websites and home pages

Why have Websites? 

  • Excellent way to market library’s success
    • Broadens clientele base, those who wouldn’t traditionally use the library 
  • Enables users to access library resources from places convenient to them 
  • To ensure a place on the Internet 
    • Beyond pamphlet information 
  • Guide people to resources outside the library 
  • Reach new audiences 

Major factors

  • Make sure you have a purpose for your site 
    • Why are you doing this?
    • Will guide to content
  • Present a consistent image
    • Do you have to fit in with parent organization?
  • How to get people to visit your site 
    • Do you want links on indexes? 
    • Load quickly
    • Attractive site
    • Easy to use 
  • How to keep people coming back or spending time on your site (be a sticky site) 
    • People stay
    • Include a option to create a default home page for users
    • Data and links should be useful 

Planning your Website

  • Why are you doing a website?
  • Who are the primary audience?
  • What are your limitations? 
    • Staff to keep site up-to-date
    • Equipment 
  • What do you want people to be able to do at your site?

The Home Page* 

  • What should be on the home page? 
  • Must present the essential tools users need to navigate your site and no more than that 
  • Each item on the top page must be defensible 
    • Give a solid rationale as why it is there
  • You may have choices like:
    • Search the library’s catalogue
      • Don’t name the catalogue 
    • o Do research on a topic 

*Ensor, Pat. “What’s Wrong with Cool?” Library Journal Supplement Net Connect (April 15, 2000):11-13 


  • Use text boxes explaining options which appear only when mouse is hovered over the option 
    • Give instant access 
  • Err on the side of leaving something off the homepage as long as you provide a navigational tool, e.g. site map, search function or site index 

Essential elements 

  • URL persistence 
    • Register and keep it 
  • URL simplicity
    • Be memorable
  • Contacting the library 
  • Don’t overlook the basics
  • What to definitely include:
    • Official name of the library 
    • Complete street and mailing address of the main library and all its branches 
    • Phone numbers
    • E-mail address for general inquiries 
    • Hours of service
    • Link to catalogue 
    • Description of facilities and collections 
      • Virtual tours 
    • Finding aids or gateways to electronic resources 
    • Directory of library staff
      • Name/e-mail address 
    • Site index 
    • Search box for finding information within the site 

Breeding, Marshall. “Essential Element of a Library Web Site.” Computers in Libraries 24 (Feb 2004):40+ 


Keeping your website sticky

  • What is sticky? 
    • Keeping your users at your site for lengthy periods of time (effective use however!) and making sure they come back frequently 
Methods for becoming sticky**

  • An editorial viewpoint 
  • Up-to-date relevant content
    • What’s new 
  • Building relationships 
    • Ask for feedback
    • Provide forms
    • Follow through 
  • Content with depth 
  • Niche content
    • Age appropriate
  • Building community
  • Features, features, and more features 
    • E-mail
    • New books

* Fichter, Darlene. “Making Your Library Web Site Sticky.” Online 24 (Jul/Aug 2000): 87. 

Keeping the site current

  • “A web site is like a cat box, you have to keep changing it if you don’t want users going elsewhere”* 
  • Check and weed links regularly (at least once a month). AVOID LINK ROT!
  • Do not build a site so large that it cannot be maintained 
  • Add new items of interest, keep listings current 

** Minkel, Walter. “Keeping Up Appearances.” School Library Journal 45 (December 1999): 27 


Some dos and don’ts 

Dos Dont's
Write your documents clearly and precisely Overuse emphasis
Organize text so readers can scan for important information  Clutter with pretty but unnecessary images
Be careful with backgrounds and coloured text Split individual topics across pages
Keep layout simple Link repeatedly on the same site to the same page
Provide alternative for images Use terminology specific to any one browser
Provide a link to your home page and your parent organization's home page Don't use the "here" syndrome with your links
Use descriptive links
Provide signature block or link contact information on bottom of each page



Lemay, Laura. Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 3.0 in a Week. Indianapolis, Ind: Sams.net Publishing, 1996, p. 307

Suggestions for school library sites* 

  • Include links to 
    • Sites recommended for current assignments 
    • Announcements of special events 
    • Information for parents about library resources and activities 
*Minkel, Walter. “’Tis a Gift to be Simple: Designing a Library Web Site that Makes Sense.” School Library Journal 45 [sic] (June 2000): 29.

Suggestions for public library children sites* 

  • Keep parents and other caregivers notified of calendar of programs and library events
  • Provide a list of kid friendly events in the community 
  • Link to appropriate game and craft sites 
*Minkel, Walter. “’Tis a Gift to be Simple: Designing a Library Web Site that Makes Sense.” School Library Journal 45 [sic] (June 2000): 29. 

Criteria for evaluating web site effectiveness*

  • Navigational characteristics o How easy is it to navigate? 
  • Practical characteristics 
  • Visual characteristics 
    • Does it look pleasing? 
*D’Angelo, John and Sherry K. Little. “Successful Web Pages: What are They and Do They Exist.” Information Technology and Libraries 17 (June 1998): 71-81. 

Navigational 

  • Provide a link to the home page and/or beginning of a group of pages 
  • Provide a link to a help page 
  • Give the same name to each link to the same location 
  • Provide links to outside sources or remote sites which are related to your organization or purpose
  • Keep all links updated
  • Make sure menus are understandable to users no matter where they enter the site
Practical 

  • Make sure layout consistent and user-friendly 
  • Use bullets and numbers for lists but not images
  •  Do not create items that look like buttons, but do not work like buttons 
  • Strike a balance between graphics and transmission speed 
  • Images
    • Use no more than three images per page 
    • Allow users to choose between viewing or bypassing graphics 
    • Use images that are 600x400 pixels or smaller 
    • Banner images 500x100 pixels or smaller 
    • Make image files smaller than 25k, if possible less than 15k 
  • Background 
    • Make background files smaller than 5k
    • Avoid text that clashes with background pattern
    • Avoid Text that blends with background pattern
    • Use only light gray or white for backgrounds, not black
    • Use a patterned background for limited special effect 
  • Colour
    • Do not use more than 50 colours per image
    • Do not use more than four colours per screen
    • Indicate actions with warm colours 
    • Indicate emphasis with bright colours 
  • Content 
    • Design the web site for content, not appearance
    • Make the top 6 inches of the home page interesting and enticing
    • Provide text at the top of the page so users will have something to look at while graphics load
    • Put important material at top of page o Include a what’s new area
    • Provide a search capability for your page or site o Include descriptive data on the organization 

Visual 

  • Home page should fit single screen
  • Keep the web page simple and organized 
  • Break up content with topic and subtopic headings or horizontal lines 
  • Make lines descriptive 
  • Include horizontal line at bottom of page
  • Provide navigational options at the top of the page (and bottom, if possible) 
  • Use boldface and italics sparingly, never type text in all caps 
  • Avoid using multiple fonts 
  • Use white space effectively

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