10 Easy Steps to a Horrible ILS

I just read this article, and thought some of the points made really compare to the ILS discussion going on right now. First, a little explanation – the point of the original article is to point out rather obvious ways to ruin an ecommerce site. But, some of those points translate nicely to our beloved ILS systems, too. Here are some of the more “telling” points: 

1. Use your Ecommerce Software’s [ILS System’s] Default Layout. Ouch! A large percentage of us libraries use the default layout. When we get brave, we add our logo image and maybe change a color or two.

We really need to customize the ILS we bought with our taxpayer’s/students/patron’s hard-earned money so it’s usable for our customers, don’t you think? And if we can’t do it, well then – we should expect our vendor to do it for us.

2. Don’t use thumbnails. SIRSI adds Syndetics info, which includes thumbnails of materials. So much nicer, especially when our competition is Amazon – at least it’s a step in the right direction.

4. Don’t smooth the Checkout Process. Sometimes this is easy for us, sometimes not. Make sure your ILS is easy to use when customers want to place a hold on an item. ANd make sure you’re using the most appropriate words, phrases and descriptions for your customers, too (ie., do your customers understand what “placing a hold” really means?).

5. Ignore the Market you’re “Targeting.” Who’s your target audience? Kids? If so, can they use your ILS system made for adults? Etc, etc, etc. Think about ways to help your target audiences find what they’re looking for.

8. Completely leave out Product Descriptions. Compare The Hobbit in your ILS system to The Hobbit at Amazon. Most likely, your version has author, title, subject headings, a call number, and (egad) a MARC record. Amazon, on the other hand, has all the normal ILS stuff (except for the MARC record, which they really don’t need), plus pictures, a “look inside this book” preview, customer tagging, reviews from publishers, and reviews from other customers.

Do you see a difference?

10. Never post your Address or Phone Number. What happens when a search leads to nothing in your ILS? In my library’s ILS, this phrase appears “… found no matches in the library you selected.” And then a search box is displayed so the customer can re-do their search. That’s well and good, but let’s go one further. Let’s add our email/chat/IM/telephone reference contact info there, too. This way, a frustrated customer can go one further – and you have just added some positiveness to an otherwise negative customer experience.

web2.0, library2.0