Recently, the Mutual of Omaha’s AHA Moment van stopped at my library and took some “AHA Moment” videos of Topekans.
Pretty cool project! They’re on a 25-city tour, capturing people’s “Aha moments” – which they define as “It’s a moment of clarity, a defining moment where you gain real wisdom – wisdom you can use to change your life.”
Anyway – I did one – my Aha moment is embedded in this post. Mine was (in true librarian fashion) the reason I became a librarian. A coupleof otherpeoplefrom my library did these, too – check them out!
Why show these? It’s a cool project … and one you can potentially mimic. The Mutual of Omaha is doing a national “aha moment” thing … but why couldn’t you do a localized AHA Moment? Or even better – create some “library aha moments” of patrons saying why they love your library! Show patrons sharing what rocks about your library – reading, books, free wifi even.
Either way, it could be a cool way to get your community talking about your library or organization. nothing wrong with that!
One more question every webpage should answer – #3: “Why should I care?”
This one comes from my library’s Executive Director, Gina Millsap. Another way to ask this question is “Why would I want to do that?” or “What’s in it for me?”
This is where your PR, marketing and promotion skills come into play. Why? Because you need to sell your content to your customers.
Selling? I hate selling – I’m a librarian, for peet’s sake!
Yep – I get that. But just putting information about something up on a website doesn’t mean people will attend that event, read that blog post, or check out that book. Sometimes we need to go a bit further, and work on convincing our customers to take those next actions I talked about in my last post.
The goal on a website is to move people from point A to point B – from reading a book review to actually checking out the book, for example. This isn’t selling as in “smarmy used-car salesman” selling … but it IS a form of selling, and a good organization learns to do this – on posters, in person, and even on our websites.
Answering “why” can be as simple as a brief explanation on why something is useful. For example – why should I apply for a library card? Because you get to read all your favorite books, and check out movies … for free! And you have already paid for it anyway (via taxes).
Look around your website, and see if you are answering the “why should I care” question. If not – rework your content so this question is answered up-front and often.
A couple days ago, we looked at the 1st question every webpage should answer: What can I do here? Today, let’s look at the 2nd question I think every webpage needs to answer: What do I do next?
This question is #2 for a reason. Question #1, What can I do here?, is pretty important – that’s the main focus of the page, after all. But once your webpage visitor has done that thing – read that article or filled in that form – they need to know what they can do next? Good webpages direct those next actions.
Here are some examples:
When you have finished reading this blog post, you’ll get a list of related blog posts at the end of the article. Those suggestions (created via a WordPress widget) are next actions.
In my library’s catalog (catalog.tscpl.org), if you do a search and don’t find anything, you get an Ask a Librarian chat button (assuming we’re open). “Need help? Click the Ask Us button to chat” is a next action.
Amazon is the King of Next Actions – each page is full of the “main event” – buying the book. But there are other, alternative next actions there, too – like adding more books to your order.
Take a look at your website, and see if individual pages answer the question “What do I do next?” If not, you are missing out on an easy way to point your customers to your great content, and to keep them on your site longer.
Our Marketing department frequently uses a Creative Brief to plan the marketing and promotion process for events, services, and other stuff the library does.
Marketing and our web team meet weekly, and are part of a team we call our Creative Group (we’re big on team-based planning at the library).
So when we started redesigning our website, our friends in marketing suggested we use Creative Briefs to figure out some goals for the website, and the idea worked wonderfully.
Here’s what we did: we looked at every major section of the website – areas like About Us, Blogs, or Research – and went through our creative brief planning process for each.
We focused on these areas:
Purpose – what’s the purpose of this section of the website? For example, one purpose of the Research section is to connect customers to our databases.
Goals – slightly different and more specific than Purpose. Here, we set goals, like “We want a 20% increase in database usage in 2 years.” Or for our About Us section, it might be something like “we want fewer calls asking for our phone numbers” (since we now list out everyone’s phone number).
Primary Audience – Who’s the target audience? We try to choose 2-3 targets, usually based on market segments from a GIS study we’ve done (with help from Civic Technologies). This could also just be simple targets, like “the Kids pages focus on kids 8-12 years old.” This way, you can then focus the design and content on that target group.
Why Viewers use section – answer this question for the target audience – “Why would I want to go there?” For example, for the research section, the answer probably isn’t “because I want to find EbscoHost.” That answer focuses on the library. Answer this question by putting yourself into your customers’ heads. Do that, and the answers, more likely, resemble these: “I need to do research for my paper” or even better, “I want to get an A in History” or “I want to increase sales in my business for next year.” Then focus your design so those types of questions can be answered.
Tasks section accomplishes – This one is a bit more library-centric. What can you do here? List it out, then design those tasks to be as easy as using a light switch.
Content Requirements – What content do you need for this section? This isn’t a list of tasks – instead, it might include directions, explanations, links to more information, etc. You should also include any graphics needed here, too – graphics should support the content, and help make the main content easier to use.
Functionality Requirements – All the web stuff goes here – i.e., for a blog, you should list things like RSS and email subscription functionality. For the kids site, maybe you want things to move around on the page – list those ideas here. Basically, anything your web wizard needs to build.
Going though this process was great – it gave us some goals to shoot for on each section of the website, and helped make our redesign efforts more focused.
Here are a couple of articles with more info on creative briefs:
Just a quick fun idea, from our Marketing department! They wanted a way to show our customers how many people had signed up for our summer reading programs. They also wanted to show weekly growth, and wanted a way to nudge people who were “on the fence” to sign up.
Here’s what we ended up doing – they created an image displaying our summer reading signup numbers. It also lists the Summerfest URL where people can go to sign up (and get more info – summerfest.tscpl.org).
My Digital Services department has turned that image into the public PC desktop background image on all our public PCs (about 187 of them). We’ll change the image out every week, to show growth. It’s a simple solution – no programming required – we just update the image file once a week, and it changes on all 187 PCs.
Will it help convince some of our computer-using customers to sign themselves or their kids up for Summer reading? Not sure. Is it a simple and fun solution that has Marketing and IT working together? Definitely!