Tech Sharecase, 10 June 2011

Arthur Downing, Stephen Francoeur, Randy Hensley, Curtis Izen, Ellen Kaufman, Jin Ma, Mike Waldman, Kevin Wolff

The focus this day was on website design. Attendees were asked to come with any notable website that featured interesting design elements or that was about website design.

LibX Toolbar at Murdoch Library
Libraries can create toolbars via the free LibX service that users can install in their browsers. The toolbar features search boxes for the library’s catalogs and other resources, automated linking from ISBNs and ISSNs on websites to a catalog lookup, and more. We watched this video by librarian Kathryn Greenhill that explains to library users at Murdoch Library how to get the most out of its LibX toolbar.

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Elsevier’s Guide to Web Design
We took a look a 2004 guide published by Elsevier, How to Design Library Web Sites to Maximize Usability (pdf).

Design Tensions
We talked about how website design depends on striking a balance between competing demands:

  • innovation vs. predictability (new approaches and ideas to design are always needed but you have to mindful of the expectations of the user who has gotten used to things on the web looking and behaving in certains ways)
  • text vs. images (how to balance the use of words and images for the purposese of site and page navigation; for communication of important information; and for use as mnemonic devices that help users who return to your site and want to find their way around again based on their recall of how things worked the last time they visited)

Mathews, Brian. “Web Design Matters” Library Journal, 15 Feb. 2009.
This Library Journal article by Brian Mathews from 2009 offered some good design advice.

NCSU Libraries: Learning Commons
The website for the learning commons at NCSU Libraries had a number of features that caught our eye:

  • “Top Viewed FAQs This Week”
  • Widget displaying photos and videos on Flickr (although we questioned what the point of this was)
  • Technology lending widget that offers slideshow of gadgets you can borrow

College Library Website of the Month
The College Libraries Section of ACRL offers a monthly showcase of notable library sites.

Museum Websites
Intrigued by the somewhat similar needs of a museum website (hours/directions, online exhibits, offer access to resources), we took a look at a number of websites to see if they had any interesting design elements:

The One-Pager is the creation of two three librarians (Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches-Johnson) who have a web design business, Influx together, and Nate Hill. They designed a super streamlined template that libraries can download and freely use. We agreed that this interesting design really would work only for small public libraries but it was notable all the same, especially because it was designed with mobile users in mind first.

Super Stripped Down Library Home Page
One idea that came up at the very end of the meeting was to imagine what a library home page would be like if it had nothing other than two search boxes on it: search for sources and search for services. The first search box would be a single box that would get articles, books, images, data, etc. The second box would be return results from an index of the library website.

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One Response to Tech Sharecase, 10 June 2011

  1. Maura Smale says:

    Thanks for sharing as you go through your website redesign process, it’s been interesting to read. When the one-pager made the rounds we had lots of discussion about it at City Tech as well, and Junior even made a mockup of a super simple homepage. We’re still chewing on it — it’s so hard to balance simplicity with making sure all users know about all of the content we have, esp. as we add research guides, etc.

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