Upcoming Webinar – Building the Digital Branch: Designing Effective Library Websites

If you’re interested in building better websites, make sure to sign up for my upcoming webinar for ALA TechSource on June 8 – Building the Digital Branch: Designing Effective Library Websites. Just click the link to sign up!

This will be the second time I have given this webinar. If you attended the first one, never fret! There will be new content – I’m going to talk about how Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (where I work) built our current website (the redesign went live on March 1).

Here’s the blurb for the webinar:

Every library needs a presence on the web. Whether you work at a large academic library or a public library in a small town, you need to be able to deliver service and content to patrons outside  your building. David Lee King will once again present this popular workshop, taking you through the process of building an effective, user-friendly library website that will expand and enhance your library’s presence in the community.

In this workshop, you’ll learn:

  • How to successfully plan and implement a redesign of your website
  • How to find out what patrons want from your website
  • How to use your website to interact with patrons
  • How to create strategic plans and goals for your website

Sign up NOW!

New Presentation: Redesigning Public Services

Here’s my newest presentation, given today at INCOL (Inland Northwest Council of Libraries). It was a fun day – and I was able to hang out at Coeur d’Alene Public Library in Coeur d’Alene, ID.

Here’s the Slideshare version of the presentation!

My Experiments with Ads

Walt Crawford is thinking about clickthroughs and ads, and mentioned me as an example of someone using ads on my blog. And it’s true – I do! I’ve been meaning to write a post about my adspace experiments, and here’s a great opportunity to do it (ie., because I’m thinking about it again after posting a comment to Walt’s blog).

Why am I using ads on my blog? I started using ads as more of an experiment than anything – it was a part of the whole web thing that I wasn’t very familiar with. I held off for a long time, because I thought that putting ads on my blog would somehow water it down, or somehow feel like “selling out” … or some other nefarious deviant-like behavior.

Then I realized I was being silly, and curiosity just got the best of me. So I jumped in.

Here’s what I do right now:

  • I use Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate ads.
  • I put google adsense in posts. I’m using a plugin for those. I use the WhyDoWork plugin for the in-post ads, because it does a really cool thing – it lets me turn on ads after a post is 7 days old. So you regular readers generally don’t see those, but visitors from a search engine might see them.
  • I also turned on adsense in my rss feed, using a link-up between adsense and feedburner (those, you might see once in awhile).
  • I sometimes us an Amazon Affiliate ad. I put those in my most popular posts, or when I’m talking about something that’s sold on Amazon, like a book or a microphone.
  • I also use pre- and mid-roll ads on my blip.tv videos.
  • Oh, and I have recently been playing with Google Adwords.

Combined, I’m making around $5-600 a year off those. Not much, but then again, it pays for my website and for my pro accounts on services like Flickr.

Here’s what I’ve discovered in my adspace experiments:

  • It’s a completely new language and set of tools. I still need to make time to figure it out more, but I’m learning about things like ad impressions, CTR (clickthrough rates), RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), CPC (cost per click), and CPM (cost per thousand impressions).
  • Amazon Affiliate ads can be funny. Some months I’ll make nothing, and other months … well, I think someone clicked the Amazon ad to read about the product, and then decided to do their monthly shopping – while still under my affiliate link. ‘Cause people are buying things that I haven’t mentioned!
  • Another thing with Amazon ads – their “link maker” includes a bunch of link wording that ends up making their ad … well … look really cheesy. So I just grab the underlying affiliate link, and make my own text or image link.
  • I rarely see a check from the blip.tv ads, but I turn those ads on primarily because I love the blip.tv service – I figure if they get a little bit of money from my silly videos, then yay! I’ve helped keep their service alive.
  • Adwords – that’s just weird. I received a couple of those “$100 free Google Adwords” cards and a nudge from someone using them, so I have very recently been playing with them. I made an ad for “Digital Experience” and pointed to my book. Possibly a couple of people have bought the book because of that… but otherwise, I don’t think adwords are for me.

So – that’s what I’m doing. Should more librarians be playing with online ads? Let me put it this way – any library out there a bit cash-strapped lately? If you have a well-visited site with good content, you can potentially supplement your library’s revenue streams. That is, if you know what you’re doing. And I know that some ILS systems include an option of a “buy it now” button that points to Amazon via an affiliate ad – why not use those?

If nothing else, ads are part of the modern web, and those of us building sites should at least experiment a bit – otherwise, we’re like a carpenter who refuses to experiment with a nail gun because it seems, somehow, likes it’s cheating.

pic by quickonlinetips

Get your website off of your website!

It used to be hard to get other websites to link to your site. Why? Because you had to ask them to do it. Then (if they decided that made sense) they had to manually create the link. If you pointed them to a sub-page of your site and then redesigned, most likely that link changed – so you had to go through the process again. And this was primarily for other businesses or organizations. Individuals? Most normal people didn’t have websites, and didn’t think they’d ever need one.

Guess what? This has changed! These days – though most people don’t think of it like this – most normal people have websites. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that more individuals have websites than do organizations.

Why do I say that? Because of Facebook. Facebook profiles are essentially personal websites. People with a Facebook account now have a way to post text, photos, and videos, add some “about me” info, and have a place for comments. Contact information can be there, if you choose to do that. You even have a URL (and now, even an email address from Facebook). And the people who also have Twitter, Linked In, or Instagram accounts? They have multiple personal web spaces.

And this is awesome. Because now, you – as an organization – have an amazingly simple way to get your content linked to a multitude of other websites without really having to ask.

Just do this: post good, useful content to your organization’s social places. Post information about your upcoming events. Post interesting book reviews. Etc. And include a link back to the full content on your library’s website.

OK – you also need to write in a fun, interesting way that’s conversational and not too market-y sounding. And this is assuming your organization actually has a presence on social networks, and has been actively working to attract friends to those sites.

Guess what? People respond. By commenting and liking. By retweets to your stuff. When they do this, they have just done something HUGE. They have just added your content to their streams … to their “websites.” And at the same time, shared your content with their friends. Then the process starts all over again.

And voila! Your content has just made it “out of the building.” Pretty cool, huh?

pic by moonlightbulb