Today the Web is routine. “It’s a tool. If it’s convenient, they [people] will use it; if not, they won’t.” (Nielsen & Loranger, 2006, p.xv). So what makes a library website, more convenient, more useable, more friendly?

According to Mathews (2009), components such as visual cues, photographs, search facilities and feedback functionalities are required components of good website design and Lazaris (2009) suggests animations, colour and printable elements when building a website for children. From a users point of view, I see the following criteria as important when developing a modern website for a library:

  1. Less text, more icons – Too much text on a page, particularly a home page, is distracting. Minimise text as icons can provide clear visual direction.
  2. Obvious (and effective) search facilities – Look at Google: it is clear and returns (usually) useful results. Provide the same experience for your library users.
  3. Easy navigation tools – Help your users connect with you: Jargon can ‘encourage’ people to disengage with your site, and your organisation. Make navigation clear and simple.
  4. Relevance to the audience – Build each page, or functionality, for the target audience. The best way to do this is usability testing (Lazarus, 2009 and Nielsen & Loranger, 2006, p.394-395)
  5. Mobile-friendly – Mathews (2009) makes a clear point about ensuring that there is a mobile version for your library’s website. More and more people use mobile devices: Be where your users are! I would like to add, as a side note, that while Lazaris (2009) states that Flash should be used a lot, I would tend to disagree. Not only does Flash not work on iPhones and iPads, it is no longer supported on mobile devices (http://blogs.adobe.com/conversations/2011/11/flash-focus.html). As more people are using mobile devices for internet access, including children, excessive or exclusive use of Flash would mean that quite a number of users will not get the most out of your website.
  6. Accessibility – Never forget that some users may have visual or auditory difficulties. These users also need to be catered for. Ensure that where possible assistive technology (such as web readers) are able to effectively access your web pages (The Australian Federal Government has this as a mandatory requirement of Government web pages – http://webguide.gov.au/accessibility-usability/accessibility/).

In looking at my local library, their home page is uncluttered and is broken up into different segments, making it easier to find what you are looking for. However, overall, I find my library’s website quite boring and utilitarian.

REFERENCES

Lazaris, L. (2009). Designing websites for kids: Trends and best practices, Smashing Magazine, (27 November). Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/27/designing-websites-for-kids-trends-and-best-practices/

Mathews, B. (2009). web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal, (15 February). Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6634712.html?industryid=47126

Nielsen, J., & Loranger, H. (2006). Prioritizing Web Usability. Berkeley, CA: New Riders Press

Winokur, D. (2011). Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5. Retrieved from Flash to Focus on PC Browsing and Mobile Apps; Adobe to More Aggressively Contribute to HTML5

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