Based on my reading of Matthews (2009), Lazaris (2009) and Hofschire & Wanucha (2014) and King (2012), I chose to evaluate the website of a public library using the following set of criteria for effective library website design.
Hobsons Bay Libraries homepage has a clear grid display and visitors can see at a glance what the library has to offer. The library logo and branding incorporates the pleasant colour scheme of the council logo. Directly below the logo is a prominent search box for the catalogue, website and Google. This search box is available on every page of the library website. The drop down menus, with descriptive headings, reveal a detailed breakdown of the library’s collections and programs. A side bar allows other entry points with the heading “I want to…” From here patrons can quickly find the hours, catalogue, renew books etc. Quality photographs illustrate the homepage and book covers promote aspects of the collection. The excellent use of photographs and book covers continues throughout the website along with other visual cues such as logos to direct patrons to collections and services. The website is responsive to mobile devices with a simplified tabbed version on the mobile phone and the option to switch to the standard view. A dedicated app would enhance the mobile experience.
Different patron groups are catered for with a children’s page that utilises bright colours and a youth page with a darker, edgier look appropriate for their audiences. Book groups, home library service and other languages are also catered for but with a plain look. These areas could be made more attractive, possibly with a blog structure.
User interaction is encouraged via social media and more traditional modes. These channels also extend the reach of the library into the community. The icons of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are displayed clearly so patrons can view them or choose to follow them. Looking at Twitter I found that the library also has an Instagram account. Instagram’s use is growing so it would be beneficial to promote this option with an icon on the homepage. Most of the communication was one way with the library promoting events and services. Management should investigate some new strategies for engaging with their patrons using new media.
According to my set of criteria the library website is well on its way to creating a positive customer experience and could be improved further by the library listening and engaging with their patrons and the community.
Hofschire, L., & Wanucha, M. (2014). Public library websites and social media: What’s #trending now? Computers in Libraries, 34(8), 4-9.
King, D. L., &American Library, A. (2012). Running the digital branch: Guidelines for operating the library website. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.
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/
Mathews, B. (2009). Web design matters. Library Journal, 134(3), 24-n/a.