1. Develop your own set of criteria with regard to effective library website design.
The criteria that I have developed are designed for secondary schools as that is the area in which I currently work.
Library websites should have the following features:
1. A modern design – they should not look old and outdated as students will be less inclined to use the site.
2. Regular updates – The library webpage should be updated regularly so students who visit it are met with something new and interesting when they visit (e.g. photos, events, new book releases, podcasts etc.)
3. Different links/pages for parents, teachers and students (Matthews, 2009) as the interests and vernacular of each group is different.
4. Search boxes (Matthews, 2009) – Important for users to be able to find the information they need quickly, otherwise students may turn to sites like Google for more efficient searching.
5. Mobile Friendly (Matthews, 2009) – As many users now access the internet via their phones/iPads etc. the site must be accessible using these devices.
6. Help – the library should have many ways of providing assistance to its users.
7. Clear instructions – At the school that I work at many students struggle to access the library services (e.g. encyclopaedia links, OPAC, logging in at home etc.) Therefore, clear instructions need to be provided stating how to access all the library has to offer – perhaps even a podcast/YouTube video to aid students who struggle to comprehend written instructions.
8. Social networking – the library needs to have a presence on social media to engage with its users. As McBurnie states ‘more than 70% of 16-24 year olds visited social networking sites’ (2007).
9. Student creation – As Web 2.0 is focused on user creation, perhaps having some student input would be an interesting way to engage users.
10. A sense of humour – Most students I speak to find the library a serious place. Showing an age-appropriate sense of humour may be another way to change attitudes and put a human face on the library.
Part two –
Evaluate the effectiveness of the selected library website based on your set of criteria, and identify aspects of the website that could be improved using Web 2.0 technologies.
My chosen website:
The website has a design that is beginning to look outdated (old graphics and fonts etc.) It is hard to tell when the page was last updated but it does not seem to have any ‘what’s new’ links. It does have a link to the student portal, which is excellent, however, an improvement may be adding teacher and parent links too. It does not contain a search box, contact information or a help function which does make it difficult for students should they need assistance. It does have some presence on social media with links to a Del.icio.us account.
While the library website has some good features, it needs to adopt a more interactive approach, it needs to be made more user-friendly and it needs to have many more ways of seeking assistance.
Matthews, B. (2009). Web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal, (15 February).
McBurnie, J. (2007). Your online identity: Key to marketing and being found. FUMSI, (October.)