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David Lee King

Time to Update?



Ever seen a library website that had many of the “normal things” in place, like the library catalog, a handy database link, and an easy way to ask questions … but the people in charge of the site had obviously forgotten to update some of the “little details?”

Here’s what I mean – take a peek at these two screenshots. Here’s the first one:

don't do this!

The “site best viewed with…” statement has a problem or two. First of all, it’s simply not true – I was viewing it FINE using Firefox on a much larger resolution.

Secondly (if the statement’s true), it makes “visiting the library” much harder for a pretty significant chunk of people. For example, at my library’s website, 68% of our web visitors use some form of IE – but that’s most likely weighted, since our 177 public PCs have IE installed, and everyone hits our website upon opening the browser. On my blog, only about 30% of you are using IE… again most likely skewed a bit, since y’all are amazing people who know your stuff (and like to use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc, etc, etc).

My point? If you design for one browser, you are in essence making the digital library visit harder for 30-50% of your customers. Would you do that with your physical library? Like make all the doorways 5ft 8 in high, so anyone taller than that would either have to stoop to go through (or would bump their heads) … and then put up signs that say “Library Best Entered by people under 5′ 8″ tall?” I’m guessing not.

[And one other tiny little thing here - if you don't want people to email reference questions to the web email address... don't put the address on the page. Just funnel everything through the large "Contact Us" link, and call it good.]

And one more very similar problem (sorry for the tiny text! Click the pic to see a larger version):

don't do this!

Same stuff, but worse:

  • There is no Netscape Communicator anymore
  • Copyright 2002-2007? What happened to 2008 and 2009?
  • 4.x browsers and above?

I’m guessing the main problem is that the footer has been ignored for at least 3 years, probably longer.

Why bring this up? It’s probably a good idea to check on those little hidden details of your website every so often. Do they still make sense? Does it still hold true? Is it even necessary? Think about it … and edit as needed.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://inspiredlibraryschoolstudent.wordpress.com/ Graham Lavender

    At the very least, these footers give the message that these libraries have very little understanding of technology. I suspect most tech-savvy users would see this on the homepage and develop a negative impression of the library without even seeing the rest of the site.

  • http://inspiredlibraryschoolstudent.wordpress.com Graham Lavender

    At the very least, these footers give the message that these libraries have very little understanding of technology. I suspect most tech-savvy users would see this on the homepage and develop a negative impression of the library without even seeing the rest of the site.

  • bob dylan

    Get a life DLK. Most people could give a shit what’s at the bottom of the page.

  • bob dylan

    Get a life DLK. Most people could give a shit what’s at the bottom of the page.

  • David Lee King

    Bob – thanks for reading! I had no idea aging rock stars read my blog. Coolness!

    But seriously – while “most people” might not care, it still makes those libs look a bit incompetent. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to take a peek at your own library website once in awhile & make sure everything still makes sense.

  • David Lee King

    Bob – thanks for reading! I had no idea aging rock stars read my blog. Coolness!

    But seriously – while “most people” might not care, it still makes those libs look a bit incompetent. It’s ALWAYS a good idea to take a peek at your own library website once in awhile & make sure everything still makes sense.

  • Batarang

    I think sometimes part of this has to do with how many people have control of these areas of library websites. Because I work in a large metro library system, we could parcel these types of responsibilities out to folks who may not be as tech-savvy, but can spot inaccuracies. Also the library could make it known to all other staff that submitting these “problems” will be looked upon as trying to help out and making the site the best it can be rather than nit-picking. Of course, if someone submits an issue it needs to be dealt with quickly (meaning within a week, not a month).

  • Batarang

    I think sometimes part of this has to do with how many people have control of these areas of library websites. Because I work in a large metro library system, we could parcel these types of responsibilities out to folks who may not be as tech-savvy, but can spot inaccuracies. Also the library could make it known to all other staff that submitting these “problems” will be looked upon as trying to help out and making the site the best it can be rather than nit-picking. Of course, if someone submits an issue it needs to be dealt with quickly (meaning within a week, not a month).