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Library

Creating a Library Website

After reading How to Drive Traffic to Your Website and Web Design Matters here’s what I learned about creating a library website.

You want links. Badly.

Promoting your library website and making it easier for people to find depends on how many other sites link to you. Incoming links that you get from reputable sites lead to better search engine rankings and better chances of people finding your website.

But how do you get other sites to link to you?

Well, there are actually a lot of things you can do to increase traffic to your site and get people to link to you, but the number one thing is good content. Interesting, useful content is what will draw people to your site, make people talk about it and link to it.

Here’s an easy way to sum it up:

good content = incoming links = better page rank = improved search engine rankings = more traffic

 
Pretty simple, right? Well, there’s actually a lot more to this.

Participating in online discussions with your patrons is also important, as is listing your site in places where people might find it useful or interesting. Promoting your library’s services and allowing patrons to participate through interactive features of your site also can’t be missed.

And let’s not forget about search engine optimization and usability — these play important roles in creating a successful library website

The 10 Essentials for Any Library Site

“The website is your library’s most important feature” is what starts off the discussion of the 10 essentials for library sites. The author argues that your library’s site tells a lot about your organization and can have an impact on your patrons’ perceptions of the library. Your website is much more than a URL, it is an experience for your patrons and a valuable means of communication.

I summed up the 10 essentials into 10 tips:

  1. Promotion Tip: keep content fresh, update regularly and pay attention to placement of banners, photos, videos, blog posts, etc.
  2. Segmentation Tip: develop separate pages for different patron groups.
  3. Visual Tip: grab your user’s attention and help them find what they’re looking for with icons, symbols and ohter visual cues.
  4. Photo Tip: photos can help you make a good impression, as well as showcase and promote your library’s features.
  5. Search Tip: every page should have a search box and a federated search box will help patrons start using your resources.
  6. Mobile-Friendly Tip: offer a few different ways for patrons to utilize your site on their mobile device.
  7. Feedback Tip: use this as a way to show patrons that their opinions matter.
  8. Redundancy Tip: assume people are going to make mistakes and offer multiple ways to find things.
  9. Analytics Tip: Google Analytics is free and can help you identify problems and areas that need improvement.
  10. Help Tip: utilize free tools (like Meebo) and place your Ask a librarian link prominently.

The above list includes some important features that can’t be overlooked when building the library website.

I would add that making sure your site is compatible with all the different types of browsers and that your text and colors are being displayed properly on older monitors are also essentials. Don’t assume that all of your patrons have the latest monitor and all use Firefox. Your site might look completely different through Internet Explorer or on an older monitor.

Question

Should a library that does not have the resources to create an effective website settle for a site with limited features, poor content, ineffective design, etc
— or not bother with
a website at all?

In other words, is it better for a library to have a bad website or no website?

Further Reading

    •     Website design resources from Library Success Wiki

    •     Improve traffic with Google Webmaster Tools

    •     How to Attract Links and Increase Web Traffic — the Ultimate Guide from Copyblogger

|   originally posted on my classes.tametheweb.com blog   |

Discussion

2 Responses to “Creating a Library Website”

  1. Post #3
    My local public library did not have a website for years…yes years! Not until this year did the library finally get a simple website up and going. I was thrilled when I discovered my library had a website and was very content with its simple layout. No bells or whistles. The website has a simple link to the library’s OPAC, information on library hours and how to obtain a library card. Although there appears to be links to the “kids/teens” and “reference” section, they do not work. Despite this rudimentary website, I am not complaining. My town, although fairly large, has had some budgetary issues and when I asked my local librarian why the library did not have a website she stated that it was due to the financial state of the library. Knowing this helped me understand the situation better. I know that the neighboring town libraries have nice to awesome websites, but these towns can afford to create and maintain them. So to answer your question, I can honestly say that it is much better to have a simple, no frills, very basic website than none at all. Apart from providing information, a library website sends a message to the community that it DOES exist and is ready to serve the community. I know my town’s library website is very basic, for now, but I know that it will one day have a website of the same or even better caliber than those of the neighboring town libraries.

    Posted by Veronica Villagomez | April 18, 2009, 9:56 pm
  2. Good points Veronica! I guess I never thought that a library website is also there to send “a message to the community that it DOES exist” — and that is very important!

    Thanks for the comment.

    Posted by kasia | April 20, 2009, 12:35 pm

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