The Librarian in Black has a New Blog!

Anyone read Sarah Houghton-Jan’s blog, the Librarian in Black? I know I do – Sarah always has some great stuff to share. Well, she has an important announcement – she has a shiny new blog & URL!

From Sarah:

“Librarian in Black has been updated, and moved. Please update your links, bookmarks, and RSS feeds.”

So go ahead, click the links, update your RSS feed readers, subscribe via email, whatever you usually do … I’m waiting…

Wisconsin Presentations

I gave a couple of presentations last week, at the South Central Library System in Madison, WI and at a library unconference in Stevens Point, WI. Both were a blast! The above presentation is the main presentation I did – this is the longer, 2-hour version (I gave a 1-hour version at the unconference).

I also gave a Designing the Digital Experience talk at the unconference.

Thanks, Wisconsin libraries, for the invitation to speak – you guys really started some fun conversations!

Think Simple

apple keySimple is good. But that doesn’t mean your site has to BE simple.

Let’s use Apple as an example of this. Apple computers tend to have a “simple” experience attached to them. When you pick one out, there are relatively few choices – three models to choose from (as opposed to Dell, which has LOTS of models to choose from). Macs come with all the software a consumer needs to start out – basic writing, email, photo, video, and web apps – all conveniently installed. And even those apps are simple – iMovie is extremely easy to use, for example – it’s highly visual. Even the power button is simple – it’s the only button on my Mac, as opposed to my kid’s HP laptops – they have a good 5-6 buttons that do a variety of things (including hiding the power button for the uninitiated).

But is my Mac REALLY simple? Think about iMovie again. That scrolling, visual timeline of the video is anything BUT simple to create. It’s simple for the user, sure… but I’ll bet there’s some extremely complicated coding going on on the back end of that visual scroll bar!

good bookNo, it’s anything but simple. Apple has designed my MacBook experience to make sense simply, so I can focus on other things (like write this post).

We can do this with our websites, too. Our goal should be this – Think simple… always. Can we have detailed functionality? Yes – as long as it doesn’t get in the customer’s way. Our goal should be to keep the customer focused on the task at hand – and that task should NEVER be to figure out how your website works. Let’s keep our website innards out of the customer’s way!

Real-Time Libraries

Steven Bell over at the ACRL blog has a great post about the real-time library. He includes a list of bullet points about the real-time library – he says “What are some characteristics of the real-time library?”

  • The real-time library is socially networked but it’s about more than just owning social network accounts; the real-time library has an active presence and shares information in real time.
  • The real-time library updates its status regularly.
  • The real-time library offers targeted services to the networked community.
  • The real-time library is accessible on real-time communication devices.
  • The real-time library is ready and waiting – all the time – to deliver information services.
  • The real-time library monitors the multitude of emerging real-time web services and experiments to find those with the potential to enhance service in real-time mode.
  • The real-time library designs information services specifically for delivery and use on the real-time web.
  • Real-time librarians are adept at creating relationships with real-time library users.

Go read the article, and give it some thought… here’s one thought to start us off: remove all the 2.0, digital, online stuff from this idea, and we’re simply talking about the real, physical, day-to-day experience of a normal (yet very good) library. Emerging online services are working to make this normal, active experience we have at the physical library the same when we’re online.

Are we there yet? How do we get there?

photo by ToniVC

Bathrooms and Lightswitches

When you walk into a dark room and want to see, what do you do? Simple – you just flip on the light switch. Do you think about how it works? Does it confuse you? Do you stop to marvel at the beauty of the light switch hardware?

How many people ponder the intricacies of electricity or the skills of the electrician?

Probably none of the above … you just want some light, so you flip the switch without even thinking about it. It “just works” – letting you get on with whatever it was you were going to do.

How about bathrooms? When you’re in a restaurant and need to visit the bathroom … ? Do you wonder at the amazing wayfinding expert who came up with the clever directional signage? Do you thank the plumbers, the engineers, and the architects who helped create the bathroom? Again, I’m guessing not.

In fact, if you DO have to stop and puzzle out the bathroom or the lightswitch, the designers failed. Those things should be so easy to use that you don’t have to stop what you’re doing to figure them out. The goal is to keep you going (no pun intended), not stop you in your tracks.

Your website needs to be that simple – start designing digital experiences that don’t get in your customer’s way!

pics by Martin Cathrae & Olivander