After reviewing literature by Mathews (2009), Lazaris (2009), McBurnie (2007) and Governor et al (2009) which discuss criteria for the creation of websites I have devised some of my own for creating effective library websites. I have then evaluated a library website against this criteria.
- If the library is part of a bigger organisation such as a University, the website design should not be divorced from the style of the other websites of that organisation. It should be recognisable as part of that organisation and not sit apart from it.
- Content should not be overcomplicated, out-dated or over-crowded. This could confuse users and give them a frustrating or negative experience (Mathews, 2009).
- Navigation and call-to-action areas should be clear, concise and easily recognisable (Lazaris, 2009) if a website is hard or confusing to navigate clients may abandon their efforts.
- Searching the catalogue should be accessible from any page on the Library’s website, clients should not be required to stumble around attempting to search the Library’s catalogue (Mathews, 2009).
- “Clearly define the audience” (Governor et al, 2009) there is no point proceeding with development of a website if you do not know the wants and needs of your clients and build your site as a response to that.
- Carefully consider scripting. CSS offers the ability to change templates across the entire site simultaneously rather than the tedious exercise of editing each page. When building consider sustainability and staff time for upkeep/editing (Governor et al, 2009).
- Incorporate web 2.0 technologies: there is no shortage in options so look at your needs vs. what the platform is capable of vs. how popular it is. For example if you need video sharing and vimeo offers more editing options than YouTube you would be inclined to use vimeo. However, YouTube might be more popular which increases the discoverability of the Library’s videos and therefore helps build the Library’s online identity (McBurnie, 2007; Cowling, 2012).
- Clients should have positive experiences using the website. Use bright colours effectively to highlight areas of your page and positive focal points such as pictures of people enjoying themselves in the Library space (Lazaris, 2009).
The University of Wollongong Library page does embrace some of the above criteria. The website has similar branding to that of other UOW sites, colours are bright and cheerful without overwhelming the page and the focal points include drop down menus, a cheerful photo of a student in the stacks and the navigation buttons. It does embrace Web 2.0 technology and it’s Facebook and Ask-a-Librarian pages are easy to locate from the homepage. They do use CSS scripting to style their page and it is obvious they have considered their target audience whilst building the page from the options available e.g. support for researchers.
One big negative for this website is the fact that there is not a catalogue search bar on every page. There are search bars for other purposes which could be confusing as they are sometimes in the same spot as other search bars have been.
Cowling, D. (2012). Social media statistics – July 2012. Retrieved from http://www.socialmedianews.com.au/social-media-statistics-australia-july-2012/ on 2 August, 2012.
Governor, J., Hinchcliffe, D, & Nickull, D. (2009). Web 2.0 architectures (1st ed.). Sebastopol, Calif.: O’Reilly Media. [ebook] Available http://proquest.safaribooksonline.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/9780596514433
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/ on 2 August, 2012.
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 on 2 August, 2012.
McBurnie, J. (2007). Your online identity: Key to marketing and being found. FUMSI, (October). Retrieved from http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/share/2510 on 2 August, 2012.
University of Wollongong (2011). University of Wollongong Library Homepage. Retrieved from http://www.library.uow.edu.au/index.html on 2 August, 2012.
Vimeo(2012). Vimeo homepage. Retrieved from http://vimeo.com/ on 2 August, 2012.
YouTube (2012). YouTube homepage. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/ on 2 August, 2012.