I’m reading “Library Web Sites: Creating Online Collections and Services” right now, and came upon this quote: “Users expect to find those same practices implemented on the library web site. Imagine all of the other sites (eBay, Travelocity, Yahoo!) that users visit in between trips to the library’s web page … In fact, studying the design of some of the very heavily visited web sites helps libraries in adopting some of the very principles that makes these sites polular” (page 30).
What a cool idea! We do this at my library – in our last couple of redesigns, we realized that we didn’t want to look like what we thought of at the time as “our competition” – other area library websites. So we started looking at corporate websites for design ideas, and I think it’s worked – We have what I consider to be a nice looking website (www.kclibrary.org).
But we could go one (or two, or three) further with this idea. How about seeing who our “virtual competition” is – looking at our web traffic and seeing where our website visitors are coming from, and (more importantly) where they go when the exit our site (I think some web logging software shows this – I’ll have to look)? Then, take the say, top 5 sites and check ’em out. See what those sites do that yours does/doesn’t do.
Figure out why someone would be interested in those sites who was using your site. Then, figure out a way to keep those people on your site.
Why? More web traffic equals more library customers.