Design for People

I’ve been doing a lot of reading on responsive design lately (because my library is headed towards that), and that made me think. When designing websites, we tend to design for devices. That’s what responsive design is all about – it’s coding in such a way that your website “responds” appropriately to different screen sizes (i.e., desktops, tablets, smartphones). We design for things: for a desktop; for a screen; for a browser; for a tablet or smartphone.

Nothing wrong with that – a modern website has to work on all those devices, right?

But I also think we need to shift our focus a bit, to where it really counts. And that focus is not on the screen.

We need to design for people.

What’s that change?

We still need to do all the usual stuff – i.e., use great css, work on making our websites responsive, think about screensizes, readability, contrasting colors, etc.

But let’s also focus on people:

  • Put content first.
  • Ask customers what content they want … and then create that content!
  • Answer the why, what, and who questions.
  • Provide next steps and calls to action on ALL content.
  • Make asking questions and getting responses easy and seamless.
  • This works for our physical and our digital branches.
  • What else? Add to my list in the comments…

Simply put – put people first.

pic by Nicola Albertini

What’s Missing?

Ever wanted to know what your customers think is missing from a service point in your library?

There’s an easy way to find out … just ask! Post something that asks “what’s missing?” and start gathering answers. For example:

  • Want to find out what’s missing on your public PCs? Tape a form to the table by each computer and ask for comments.
  • Have a teen room, and you want to find out what’s missing there? Put up a white board that asks “what’s missing?” (and be prepared for some snarky responses. They’re teens, after all).
  • Have a mobile website or app? Do what my library did. The last link on the main page of our mobile Boopsie app is “What’s Missing? Send us a Suggestion.” Clicking that link leads to an email form that gets sent to me. And believe me, people fill that out!
  • Ask through your library’s social media channels.

You can ask a similar “what’s missing” question on a website, in a room of the library, or even in the stacks. The point is this: if you want to make improvements in the library, you need to find out what’s missing … and fix that stuff.

Pic by crdotx

Seven Strategies for Growing Community on your Blog

I recently saw this post at problogger.net about strategies for growing community on your blog, and thought the suggestions were great. Here are the 7 strategies mentioned:

  1. Write in a conversational voice. I usually call this “talk like you type.”
  2. Invite interaction. That means you need to ask people what they think!
  3. Consider a dedicated community area. This can be accomplished by creating a forum or a Facebook Group, for example.
  4. Use interactive and accessible mediums. Blogs that allow comments, Google Plus hangouts, etc.
  5. Run projects and challenges. These are basically tricky ways to jumpstart conversations and interaction. Examples include a 31 Days to a better …” set of posts, or a Photo a Day meme.
  6. Real life events. talk about what’s actually happening in your community. Relate it back to your library.
  7. Put your readers in the spotlight. Use guest posts, link to them on social media discussions, comment on their blogs, etc.

I’m curious – anyone do any of these? Which ones are the most useful in your library or blog?

Pic by Chiot’s Run

My #ideadrop presentation During SXSWi

Video streaming by Ustream

While I was at SXSW in Austin, TX last week, I had the pleasure of giving a presentation/interview/livestream at the #ideadrop house. The video is embedded in this post.

What’s the ideadrop house? From the livestream text:

“On 3/8, DLF brings you a live stream of the ER&L + ProQuest #ideadrop house in Austin, TX. The #ideadrop house is a space dedicated to library and information professionals to experience the diversity of SXSW speakers in the context of libraries and library-related technologies and topics.

Influencers, thought leaders, artists, hacktivists, academics and creators join the #ideadrop library house during March 8-12 at SXSW Interactive to discuss many topics including: SOPA/PIPA, free speech, privacy, open access, archives, values, humanity, civic start up efforts, civil liberty, liberty, network freedom, information access, open data, museums, community engagement, ux, social media, digitization and open source technologies.

Live streaming made possible by the Digital Library Federation (DLF)”

So – Lisa Carlucci and I talked about online conversations and community in the library world – fun talk! Make sure to watch and listen … then leave a comment here!

Interesting to Us or to our Customers?

I was just reading a blog post on Seth Godin’s blog about stuff being interesting. His main point – is it interesting because it happened, or is it interesting because it happened to you?

That made me think – what stuff do libraries do “for our customers” that we find interesting or useful or amazing … but our customers – not so much?

Think about some of these things libraries have, for example:

  • Library Catalog – interesting to our customers?
  • Article Databases – interesting to our customers?
  • Periodicals reading room …
  • Reference desk …
  • Dewey Decimal System …
  • etc

I don’t have a big problem with anything listed above. But still – libraries pour a LOT of time, money, and expertise into each of these fairly traditional things libraries have and do. Do our customers really … REALLY … find them all that interesting?

Asked another way – is your periodicals reading room standing-room only? Is it hard to find a public computer because so many customers are using the catalog? Get the idea?

I think our goal should be two-fold:

  1. spend time, money, and expertise on stuff our customers care about
  2. do stuff that our customers care about

Not always easy to do, huh?

photo by abeckstrom