Tag Archives: library web site design

Clean, Modern Take on the Suggestion Box

I love the “Have an Idea?” feature linked to throughout the website for the library at Cal State San Marcos. Clicking the link (which features a lightbulb icon) takes you to this “Have an Idea” page where you can submit your idea and view and vote on the ideas of others.

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Tech Sharecase, 20 January 2012


Janey Chao, Arthur Downing, Stephen Francoeur, Jin Ma, Rita Ormsby, Linda Rath, Mike Waldman


Arthur led a demo of ooVoo, which is web conferencing software that the college has a campus-wide subscription to. You can use it for web-based:

  • one-to-one phone calls
  • one-to-many phone calls (conference calls)
  • one-to-one video chats
  • one-to-many video conference calls

The software includes screen sharing, which lets you show live what is on your screen with anyone you are having a video chat or video conference call with.

Another great feature is that you can initiate a phone call or a video chat with people who don’t have even have an ooVoo account. Instead, you send them a special URL that invites them to call/chat with you via the web. Once that other person clicks that link, they are asked to type in their name, and then click a button that will notify you via ooVoo desktop software that someone’s trying to reach you.

This software might be useful for:

  • faculty office hours
  • distance/online education
  • meetings with other librarians in CUNY and beyond

To get the ooVoo software installed on your work computer, you’ll need to contact the BCTC Help Desk.

QR Codes

Linda mentioned her use of QR codes on her profile page in the LibGuides system. When scanned with a smartphone, the code will send Linda’s contact information into the user’s address book. She used the i-nigma service to create the original QR code. Stephen talked about his use of bit.ly to create a short URL for the library’s customized Google Scholar link:


In bit.ly, each short URL that you create gets its own tracking page in your bit.ly account that gives you stats on the use of that short URL and also gives you a QR code for the URL in case you wanted to share that as well.

Usability Testing on on the New Library Site

Stephen described the first round of usability testing that was recently completed on the new library site (10 students performing three, pre-defined tasks each). We watched a video from one of the tests to get a sense of what usability tests look like and to see how one student reacted to the new site. Changes will be made to the redesigned site based on this round of tests and will lead to a second round of testing.

We talked about a model of testing that web design expert Steve Krug recommends in his 2010 book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. Krug suggests doing monthly tests with just three test participants. Instead of having a single observer watching and taking notes of what transpires between the test participant and test moderator, he argues for setting up a conference room filled with interested parties (web developers, etc. for that site being tested) who watch the tests live, take their own notes, and then convene after the testing session to come up with a list of top things to fix. According to a recent blog post by Matthew Reidsma, a web services librarian at Grand Valley State University, he’s started doing testing in this very manner and recommends it.

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Tech Sharecase, 9 September 2011

Arthur Downing, Stephen Francoeur, Louise Klusek, Jin Ma, Mike Waldman, Kevin Wolff

Search Algorithms
We watched a video from Google about how they update the search algorithm every day based on data.
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We also discussed the way that Google’s business is so driven by data from all its services, a topic raised in Steven Levy’s recently published book, In the Plex. We considered how your location and who your online friends are can shape your search results, something that Eli Pariser gets at in the video from TED that we watched.
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New Library Website
We got a peek at an early working draft of the home page supplied by the developer based on the student input that was previously posted in the Idea Lab. Several more drafts are expected before the home page is put through rounds of usability testing with students. We talked about how a search box for a discovery layer from Summon might work on the home page.

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Consistent Themes with the New Library Website Design

I’ve run across NYU’s website and am impressed at how their LibGuides incorporate the overall Library website design and theme. Rather than looking like the separate platform it is, it conforms to the overall appearance with colors and typography. I hope we can achieve something similar with the redesign for our LibGuides and other integrated platforms.

NYU Website Homepage

NYU Website Homepage

NYU LibGuides

NYU LibGuides

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Tabs and Interior Pages in LibGuides

There’s an interesting thread of comments on the Academic Libraries group on the Springshare Lounge about the problem of students not noticing that LibGuides have tabs and thus missing all the other pages. A couple of solutions have been proposed so far:

  • Add a table of contents box on the home page that offers links to each page in your guide (many of us already do this)
  • Add a HTML break tag when you are typing in the page title so that the tab is taller than usual (see this “Company Research” guide from Eastern Michigan University for an example)
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Database Pages on Libary Websites

As work is underway on our library website, I’d like suggest that we seriously consider how we design our databases page. Mita Williams, a librarian at the Leddy Library at the University of Windsor, recently published a thoughtful post where she considered various options for laying out the A-Z list of resources. One thing that I found interesting in her post was the idea of mimicking the way search engine results pages show the same basic info: title of resource, text snippet, and URL. I’d also like to second the idea of giving each database a unique page on the library website (with a URL that is stable and can be shared).

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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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Next Tech Sharecase on Friday, June 10, To Discuss Website Design

The next get together of the Tech Sharecase will be on Friday, June 10. At the last meeting, we had a great discussion of the issue of excessive printing by students, faculty, and staff on campus and ways that we could move to being less reliant on paper printouts. You can read notes from that meeting as well as all the previous ones by visiting the tag for “Tech Sharecase” on this blog.

Since the themed meetings have been working well, I thought that at this Friday’s meeting we could talk about any aspect of website design that has our attention on that day. It would be great if you could bring to the meeting at least one example of a notable college or library website that exemplifies something important we should keep in mind as the Newman Library’s website gets redesigned.

Hope to see you this Friday!

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Typography Treatment in New Web Site

Below is the typography treatment that will be used in the Library’s new web site.


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Making the Library Website Manageable

As we begin work on redesigning the library website, I’d like to put in my two cents for simplifying things. This quote from Aaron Schmidt‘s recent blog post at Walking Paper, “Library Websites Should Be Smaller,” nicely sums up the argument for me:

For years, I’ve heard talk about libraries cutting the cord on irrelevant services. Yet I haven’t heard as much discussion about which sacred web cows we can put out to pasture. This might in part be owing to the perception that a 200-page website isn’t more expensive to manage than a 50-page one. While probably true in terms of hosting fees, it isn’t otherwise true. Good content takes staff time to produce and arrange, and the navigational overhead can be a time expenditure for users.

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