I giggle every time I drive past this sign. It’s in the new construction part of my subdivision. Yes, you read it right – “Hack’s Quality Custom Homes.” Hack’s … as in hacked together. Definitely NOT a name that inspires trust OR quality, to me anyway!
But the sign made me think – how does your organization’s website look? Does it look professional, or does it look like “Hack’s Quality Websites” built it?
Here’s something fun to do – browse through a list of libraries in your state, and poke around on their websites for a bit. If your state is anything like mine, you’ll find some nicely-designed library websites, and many others that … well … come up a bit lacking.
And I know why:
- Some libraries, especially small ones, don’t hire web managers. They possibly can’t afford that position, so they have someone on staff do the web stuff as a small part of their many job duties, whether or not they actually have web skills.
- Some web managers have more of an IT/Technical background rather than an online/web background. It’s really two different skill sets, though both are related to technology.
- Some libraries simply haven’t yet prioritized their web services. Or it is a priority but there’s not much planning involved. Instead, they keep tacking new things onto an outdated website.
My point? I think this needs to change. If the front door of your physical building were broken, maybe creaky or even coming off its hinges, you’d fix it. No one wants the main entrance of their business/organization to not work right! It gives people a lasting impression … and not a good one, either.
Guess what? Your website is one of the front doors to your library. For many of us, it’s broken. We need to get it fixed! And not by Hack’s Quality Websites, either. Your website doesn’t have to be the most amazing thing they’ve ever seen on the web … but it DOES have to have all the basics, it should be attractive and balanced visually (or at least not be ugly), and shouldn’t cause anyone to stumble.
I think we can do better. I know my library can (which is why we’re redesigning again). I’m certain your library can do better, too. Even if you have little or no dedicated web staff. If you’re small, what can you do? Here are some ideas for starters:
- Goals come first – figure out what you want your organization’s website to be/do, then work backwards from there
- Can’t hire? Why not partner – with local ad agencies, with a local media organization, or even with a local school/college.
- In a regional cooperative/consortium? It’s possible they can help.
- Start learning! You probably have HTML and basic web-building books – it’s never too late to start learning a new skill.
- Use a free design template, rather than designing from scratch. In fact, take this time to make your website blog-based, as well. Then it will be easy to update, as well.
What else? Anyone have other suggestions? Please share!