I’m knee-deep in wading through a bunch of articles and books on various aspects of experience design for the book I’m writing on digital experience planning, and I just had an epiphany today: I’m insane!
(No, wait – that’s not it…)
Ok – so I’ve been thinking about experience lately, both for my book and for the library website my library is currently redesigning. And we’ve been talking a lot about “experience.”
So what was my epiphany (hee – I just used the word “epiphany” twice in one blog post)? The type of experience a library website delivers. Because there’s more than one type of experience that can be delivered via the web.
Here’s what I mean. Go take a peek at the website for the newest Harry Potter movie (just promise to come back here!). That site clearly presents a type of experience – it’s all about fun, entertainment, projecting a theme through sound and cloudy, dark images, etc – it’s all about the experience of entertainment.
That’s a great digital experience – but that’s not what I want on my library’s website. No, that’s the wrong type of experience. So I continued thinking about digital experience and presentation for a library website (or any content-rich site, for that matter) – what type of experience should we be creating?
And then it dawned on me (yes, this is when the heavens opened and I had my epiphany (ha – did it again): the movie site is mimicking the actual movie… so a library site should mimic the actual library. And what type of experience happens in a library?
One of community. And conversation. And participation.
Those things happen here at the library EVERY SINGLE DAY. There’s an amazing amount of interaction between the library staff and our patrons – ideas being shared, information being found, meetings being held, and questions being asked and answered.
And that – that – is the experience I think libraries need to work on creating in a digital environment, be that in Second Life, in MySpace or FaceBook, or on the library’s website. Look at CNN and USAToday’s recent redesigns – they focus on community. Why? Because those newspapers exist to inform their user communities. And why not interact with those communities? That only makes sense.
It makes ok sense for a newspaper. But for a library? Community is our lifeblood. Our goals, as I see them, in the emerging digital age are to:
- create a sense of community in our digital spaces
- create and nurture conversations in our digital spaces
- allow participation in our digital spaces
Do these things, and your digital doors will swing just as wide as your physical doors do now.