Tag Archives: Web Site Design

A Sense of Humor at the Cooper-Hewitt

I heard that Micah Walter’s presentation at yesterday’s annual meeting for METRO, “Open Data at the Smithsonian” revealed a strong sense of humor in the web work going on at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Reading over Walter’s presentation, which is posted on his blog, I can see what everyone was talking about. Here’s a choice quote that explains the rationale behind the humor:

We also wanted our website to be more approachable. We designed it with a minimalistic attitude and a somewhat whimsical style. You’ll see small jokes here and there and the language is meant to be more engaging and less “institutional.” We know that in order to be really relevant we need to disconnect ourselves from all of the institutional hand waving and move towards a website that anyone can enjoy and still gain some type of great benefit.

The museum maintains a “Cooper-Hewitt Labs” site that also offers doses of humor:

  • the central nav bar on the site features a “+Cats” link that when clicked runs the Nyan Cat across the screen (the Nyan Cat meme is explained over at Know Your Meme)
  • the usual message at the bottom of an experimental project page that mentions what software powers the site gets a little twist: Powered by Isotope and several hundred chocolate covered coffee beans.

This reminds me of a great little book I read last year, Aaron Walter’s Designing for Emotionthat argues that web design needs to prioritize efforts to make an affective connection with users.

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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.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Dqo24nS2MHw" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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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Website Redesign Tips

As we get closer to beginning the redesign of the library’s website, it would be great if all of us tried to share whatever resources we find useful that relate to web design.

Here are the slides from two librarians who will be presenting on web design in libraries at the Computers in Libraries conference, which just started today.

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Tech Sharecase, 29 January 2010

Attendees: Arthur Downing, Stephen Francoeur, Randy Hensley, Ellen Kaufman, Louise Klusek, Jin Ma, Ryan Phillips, Erica Sauer, Mike Waldman

We started off discussing the iPad release and some of the criticism of the device as being too locked down, filled with DRM restrictions, and further the use of apps, which some view as a problematic development that signals an effort to return to walled gardens of the web of the early 1990s. The device seems geared more toward consumption of content as opposed to a tool for creation. It was suggested the iPad may appeal to baby boomers looking for a simple computer. We also discussed how it may transform the world of periodicals.

New Paywalls on the Web
The discussion of the iPad led us to a discussion of the creation of new paywalls on the web. We referred to:

RDA Updates
This page on the CUNY Technical Services Wiki offered some updates about RDA from the ALA Midwinter meeting, including news about ALA’s announcement of pricing for the RDA Toolkit. More news about the testing and release of RDA can be found on the Library of Congress Bibliographic Control Working Group site.

Records in CUNY+ for CDs in Naxos
Baruch will be loading records into CUNY for the CDs that have available in streaming format via the Naxos database. Those catalog records will include direct URLs to albums in Naxos. Track-level records, though, will be not part of those catalog records. We were also reminded that the reference wiki includes instructions about how a professor can create a playlist in Naxos that can be shared with students.

New design for CUNY Website
We looked at the new CUNY website, which is still in preview mode right now. The CUNY Portal and other CUNY systems on the web will likely be redesigned in the image of the soon-to-be-launched main CUNY site.

We got an update on where we are in the rollout of systems in CUNYfirst, which brings together silos of data relating to finance, HR (now referred to as HCM for “human capital management), and student information.

We looked at a LibGuide set up for a LIB 1015 class and commented on the draft of a guide for MLA style. We also looked at the main LibGuides page for the whole system to see which ones in the system were most popular.

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Tech Sharecase, 20 August 2009


Ryan Phillips, Stephen Francoeur, Randy Hensley, Mike Waldman, Jean Yaremchuk, Joseph Hartnett

Squirrelizer and Cornify

Because we like to have fun as well as talk about serious topics, we started off with a couple of silly sites. Squirrelizer will insert the newly famous squirrel image into your pictures. Cornify will add pretty rainbows and unicorns to a web site or image (until your stomach turns).

Bing News vs. Google News

Google News offers a richer interface with better faceted navigation. Bing’s news section suffers at the moment from not having enough sources to provide, but Microsoft is likely working on lots of deals with news publishers now. It may be that Bing is also working on a finance section to rival Yahoo! Finance (although with the Yahoo!/Microsoft deal from last month, it’s not clear what’s going to happen). It was remarked that Bing is making a more competitive landscape now.

NewsGator announced that they are dropping its longtime desktop RSS reader and focusing on a mobile app version instead. Since Microsoft Outlook 2007 was released, which featured a built in RSS reader, the market for desktop RSS readers has declined. Jean mentioned that she used PHP to code her own desktop RSS reader.


Jean used Visio for a couple of things recently: for planning display cases layouts and for creating a Gantt charts. Maybe at an upcoming sharecase where there is a critical mass of library staff attending, she can give a demo of the software.

Exporting from Aleph

Jean created a script that will allow us to run reports on our subject areas and export to Excel.

Library Technology for Assistive Services

We talked about assistive technology that we have in the 3rd floor room and on the 2nd floor.

Library Web Site Design

A discussion about how we update content in our library web site led to a broader discussion of library web site design and looks at lots of notable sites. One resource that is helpful when talking about web site design is Jon Kupersmith’s Library Terms That Users Understand.

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