Our Website Redesign is Live!

My library – Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library – just released our redesigned website. Check it out!

Our new main page has three main sections that are easily seen in the graphic accompanying this post:

1. Featured Stuff. The top section is reserved for our featured stuff. We have one large featured area that can rotate with multiple . The goal there is to highlight on our 1-2 “Big, Important Things.” That could mean a library event, or it could be some new database we purchased.

There are also three smaller featured boxes that we’ll change up a bit more often. They’ll point to other cool stuff we’re doing.

And of course, the nav bar is in the top section. We went with a top horizonal nav bar this time around. It actually drops down and expands for more links (pretty much a copy of NPR‘s nav bar).

2. What’s Happening Now. The middle section highlights our content that changes often, namely our blog content and our programs. Most of this stuff, especially the blog posts, will disappear off the main page pretty fast, and that’s ok. it’s meant to hightlight “what’s happening now.”

3. Social Media. This is where we highlight our latest Twitter tweets, Youtube videos, flickr and Facebook Page.


This took us us a little over a year to complete – I started meeting with staff in February of 2010. I met with most of the library, and held some patron focus groups, too – then turned the notes from those meetings into a huge list of stuff we needed to change.

Then, we had quite a few decisions to make:

  • We had to decide how to handle content (more on that in a future post)
  • We needed to assign staff to content (still working on this one)
  • We needed to choose a CMS (we’re using WordPress this time around)
  • Visual design and navigation took awhile to get right, too

Our Creative Group (a team made up of our marketing department and our web developers) did most of this work … but the whole library helped in some way, too.

So yeah – it was a LOT of work … and it never really stops. We’re still cleaning stuff up, and will probably start tweaking pages in another week or so!

  • http://twitter.com/BaylorLibraries Baylor Libraries

    Wow, that looks really great, absolutely tremendous!

    I’m curious, since you said you used WordPress, whether it was a custom theme, or whether you all used a theme that’s already out there and hacked it yourselves. Also, I’m curious as to which WP plugins you might have used.

  • Ellen Filgo

    And that was me, logged in as my library on Twitter, oops!

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Good question! It’s our own custom theme. Here’s a list of plugins we’re
    currently using:

    404 Notifier – This plugin will log 404 hits on your site and can notify you
    via e-mail or you can subscribe to the generated RSS feed of 404 events

    Akismet – Used by millions, Akismet is quite possibly the best way in the
    world to protect your blog from comment and trackback spam. It keeps your
    site protected from spam even while you sleep.

    Erayne Twitter – Just another twitter status widget. Displays # of followers
    and recent updates.

    Google XML Sitemaps – This plugin will generate a special XML sitemap which
    will help search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask.com to better
    index your blog.

    Gravity Forms – Easily create web forms and manage form entries within the
    WordPress admin.

    Hyper Cache – Hyper Cache is a cache system for WordPress to improve it’s
    perfomances and save resources. Before update read the version changes. To
    manually upgrade remeber the sequence: deactivate, update, activate.

    Simple Local Avatars – Adds an avatar upload field to user profiles if the
    current user has media permissions. Generates requested sizes on demand just
    like Gravatar! Simple and lightweight.

    swfObject Reloaded – This plugin allows easy embedding of swf files and
    better media management for swf files, allowing swf files to have a height,
    width, and their own minimum flash version.

    User Role Editor – It allows you to change any standard WordPress user roles
    (except administrator) capabilities list with a few clicks.

    WordPress Editorial Calendar – The Editorial Calendar makes it possible to
    see all your posts and drag and drop them to manage your blog.

    WP Page Numbers – Show pages numbers instead of “Next page” and “Previous

    Yet Another Related Posts Plugin – Returns a list of related entries based
    on a unique algorithm for display on your blog and RSS feeds. A templating
    feature allows customization of the display.

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  • Batarang

    I really like the design, except I think the page is too long. Minor quibble, though.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/samantha.thomason Samantha Thomason

    Very nice!

  • Adriana

    Great redesign. Looking forward to hearing more about how you are handling the content .

  • Joe

    Great redesign – surprised you do not have a “Tell Us” section so that people can leave comments, suggestions, complaints, provide kudos, etc. Overall, a real amazing job that reflects a lot of work. Kudos to your team.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Yep. Customers are finding our contact us page and chatting with our public services staff – so they’re still able to tell us what they think.

    But we should have set that up too – good point!

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  • Karol

    Love the redesign of the Library’s website! I would love to know more about all the things you may have used to MAKE your website. There are just so many useful tools built within for public and the staff to use. Can you point me to something/s that might help. Not looking for much for a checklist as much as the product you used to do the website and/or bring into the website.

  • http://www.davidleeking.com davidleeking

    Hi Karol!

    That’s a tricky question, as we used many tools to build the site –
    Dreamweaver, Photoshop, probably notepad, and I’m guessing a couple other
    things as well. It really depends on how our developers best work.

  • http://twitter.com/loriayre Lori Ayre

    I like it too, DLK. Very cool. And not your basic library website! I am interested in how you decided it was okay to be so long. While I’m not sure I’d say it is too long, it is long and it made me think you must have made a strategic decision about that….do tell.

    Also, I love that you made it look nice while keeping fonts and graphics big enough to read for everyone (not just 20 year olds and younger). Much appreciated by me and all your boomer customers I imagine!

    Nicely done. And thanks for sharing the detes about how you did it.