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.
Has your library ever really thought about the experience around becoming a library card holder, or worked to improve it?
At most libraries, when someone gets a library card for the first time, here’s what we do: we give the person their library card. We might also hand them a printed list of either “stuff you can do” or “stuff you can’t do ” (i.e., rules, regulations and circulation policies).
Are balloons released? Does anyone celebrate? Does it usher our new customer into some cool, “members-only” club? Do we follow-up with the customer after 3 months or so to see how it’s going? Nope. For most of us, nothing else happens.
What happens with other types of membership cards?
Sam’s Club: a membership card gets you members-only discounts.
Airline reward programs: earn reward miles. Use it enough, and you can get seating upgrades and trade in miles for flights.
Grocery Store Cards: discounts on store purchases and fuel points.
Amazon Prime: free, 2-day shipping, movie and tv show streaming, and access to the Kindle ebook Library.
Now back to libraries. Is there something else we can do with a library card to make it more “membership” friendly? Reword that brochure we give out? Check back with our customers after 3 months to see how they’re doing (remember, we have their email address and snail mail address)?
How about give perks for use? For example, if they check out five books, they get that 3-day express movie for a week?
What do you think? Anyone do something special for library card holders that isn’t just “here’s your card, now go check stuff out?”
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.
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!
Here’s our 2011 annual report, for those interested.
Why do this?
We have to create some type of annual report each year. And honestly … people mostly DON’T look at these. Sure, you can mail them to everyone. Print them out and place them in strategic locations in the library. Send them to parter organizations in your community.
But read them? Maybe some people will give it a cursory glance … and them toss it into the trash, like a greeting card.
With our video? There’s enough eye candy there for people to watch, and maybe learn something more about their library, and what their tax dollars are actually going to.