The last few weeks I’ve been learning about experience planning – and trying to figure out how it works for libraries, especially library websites. So, what is experience planning? To get the complete picture, read The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. In a nutshell, they examined the experience, rather than the product, as a marketable commodity. It’s a cool idea that translates well to a library setting… and it’s just gotta work for websites, too!
Before I get to The Experience Economy, I read through this book – Priceless: Turning Ordinary Products into Extraordinary Experiences by Diana LaSalle and Terry A. Britton. My next few posts will play off ideas presented in this book, and will attempt to relate those ideas and thoughts to libraries and library websites.
Pg 29: “first and foremost, an experience begins with an interaction between a customer and a product, a company, or its representative. So, by definition, an experience cannot happen without the customer’s involvement. This is a critial point, because it requires a shift in thinking from consumers as customers to consumers as participants. You can’t do it alone.”“Once the interaction takes place, a reaction occurs.”
The goal is to have the reaction mentioned above be a positive one. How can that happen on a library website? Here are a few ideas:
- Try to put things where people might look (usability)
- Offer people information they actually want (focus groups)
- Provide a pleasing experience – one with a good feel to it (this one’s the hard one!)
Here’s another, slightly related idea. A few weeks ago, I participated in a library manager’s planning day for my library. The speaker was talking about experience planning, and had some good points. One of those points went something like this: if you want to attract a certain group of people to your facility, go where that group hangs out and then design accordingly. His example focused on a library (I believe it was the Singapore Public Library) that built a fun branch at a shopping mall – they were going for teens, who hung out at the mall. And the branch didn’t look much like a library – it really resembled a cool bookstore that would be in a mall.
But when I heard this, I was itching to try it out for websites, too! So here’s the plan: ask library customers to take a quick survey at the circ desk and online. Ask them to name their top five favorite, most visited websites. Maybe ask their age, too.
Once we have that information, it’s a short step to visiting those websites and to start figuring out what we can incorporate (ie., copy, steal, etc) into our library websites. For example: Do those popular websites use a certain navigational structure? Do they feature certain types of graphics, or have a similar look-and-feel? How is information presented on the site? Ask yourself these types of questions, and then compare those popular websites to your library website – and see what needs to be changed.
Why? The goal here is to provide a similar online experience – and to ultimately turn your library website into one of those top five most visited sites!