What’s in Your Bag?

Photo of stuff in my bag

What do you carry around every day? I just reassessed what’s in my bag … because I purchased a new one.

I’ve been an avid fan of Timbuk2 bags, and have owned three of them. The first two lasted a couple of years, and then the strap broke on the first one, and the second one developed a lovely little hole.

The third one’s been fine, but I recently changed from a 15″ laptop to a 13″ laptop … and the 13″ is MUCH smaller. So I decided to treat myself to a new laptop bag.

This time, I decided to try another bag. I’ve heard good things about Tom Bihn bags, so I bought the Tom Bihn Ristretto bag, made for 13″ laptops. Short story on this bag: I had been eying the olive bag, but when I finally went to purchase it, they didn’t have any more olive bags listed. So I emailed customer service and asked if there happened to be any more lying around the office (and really didn’t expect to hear back from them).

Guess what? Someone from the company promptly emailed back and said I was in luck – there was ONE more olive bag, and she’d hold it for me! So I’m pretty sure I have the LAST Olive Ristretto bag :-). Great customer service from Tom Bihn (and thanks Hannah)!

The smaller size of my new bag made me reassess what I was carrying around. I realized I was carrying around a lot of stuff I really didn’t need to be carrying. And it’s now cleaned out.

So what am I carrying now? Here’s a list (the photo in this post is my stuff, too):

  • 13” macbook pro, mouse and power cable
  • iPhone cable, iPhone battery charger, earbuds
  • extra mouse batteries and charger
  • business cards in black case
  • USB thumb drive
  • reading glasses
  • pens & pencils
  • Some presenter stuff: macbook VGA adapter & Kensington Wireless Presenter pointer
  • bandaid and Advil
  • Work stuff: keys & work door badge
  • Video stuff: Photojojo iPhone camera lenses, lapel microphone, Glif iPhone holder & handgrip
  • and a buckeye from my grandpa

So … what’s in your bag? Please share!

My Trend (with Stats) from the #alaac14 Top Tech Trends Panel

I was recently on the Top Tech Trends panel at the American Library Association’s annual conference (and have finally recuperated – whew!).

Someone asked me for references to the stats I quoted. Here they are, with a version of what I said (quasi-outline form).

My trend was Mobile First technology:

Some stats (with links!):

What’s going on here?

  • Mobile revolution. Smartphones and tablets.
  • wifi & cell connectivity pretty much anywhere. Except in my hotel.
  • This allows people to connect whenever.

And this is HUGE.

My trend is Mobile First technology. This is the idea that websites should be designed for mobile devices first, and then expand out. Desktops get an enhanced site experience (bigger buttons, full logo) rather than mobiles getting a pared down one.

You can also apply this philosophy to a larger library setting, there are some pretty big ramifications for how we work:

  • mobile on website – Build for mobile first. Write for mobile (there’s a way to do it to make it look “right” on mobile devices). If it doesn’t work on a mobile device … maybe you don’t need it anywhere.
  • mobile in building – Huge untapped user base here. wifi, power. Power cables and charging stations to check out. Comfy chairs. Text messaging in catalog. Simple things like signage – “we have wifi” or “we have ebooks.”
  • mobile in community – Wifi in 9 blocks. Jason’s LibraryBoxes in the park or at the farmer’s market. Mifi hotspot at the farmer’s market. Ebooks in the mall. Etc.
  • mobile for staff – who uses a smartphone for work-related activities? And does your library pay for it, or subsidize it? Maybe they should. Wifi for staff. Tablets for reference staff.

Final thought – Mobile has been a trend for awhile now. But I don’t think libraries have a mobile first philosophy yet. We don’t have some simple “mobile first” things yet, like a truly responsive mobile-friendly website, let alone great mobile access and services in the building or our community.

So let’s start working on mobile first NOW.

Pic by Karlis Dambrans

Your Website is Already Mobile

Your website is already mobile. It just might not be delivering the best experience.

Jeff Wisniewski, in his presentation on responsive design at Internet Librarian 2013, said this – “All of your content is now mobile, so be kind.”

What did Jeff mean? Probably this – If your organization has a website, it’s already “mobile” … because people with smartphones can get to it using their smartphone web browsers.

It’s a done deal.

Well – sorta done. Your website might be available to mobile users, but is it usable? Does it adapt or respond to different screen sizes? Is the content written to be quickly scannable on a mobile device, or is it a huge river of text?

Here’s a question for you: What kind of experience are you providing your mobile customers? Is it good or bad? Have you ever thought about the mobile web user experience? If your organization is providing a less-than-stellar” mobile web experience, what are you planning to do to improve it?

I’d love to know!

Pic by Robert Scoble

Website Redesign going live and going Responsive

Well, I didn’t really post much about my library’s website redesign. But next week, we go live with it!

You can check it out now at our beta, pre-launch URL – dev.tscpl.org.

Here’s our go-live process:

  • Work on the site like crazy (we still have a big list of stuff to do!)
  • Today, we posted a head’s up to our customers, and asked them for feedback, too
  • We go live on January 29
  • Then, we’ll continue to tweak things as we notice them for 2-4 weeks.
  • Sometime after the big launch, we plan to have Influx take a peek, to catch stuff we missed.
  • Finally, we plan to do some usability testing to catch even MORE stuff we missed.

So, what’s new and different about our redesigned site? Quite a bit:

  • We went responsive, so one set of code works on all browsers and devices.
  • We have consolidated some of our blogs
  • Really worked hard on our links, our navigation, and directing people to the right content
  • Modern design, modern web fonts, white space, etc
  • On the back-end, we focused on letting WordPress do most of the work, instead of custom-coding. This will make things like sidebar widgets and pages MUCH easier for us to update

And probably much more that I’m missing. So go check it out!

Writing for the Mobile Web

Writing for the mobile web is a LOT like all those “writing for the web” articles you’ve probably seen before, but with more emphasis on scannability and engagement. Why?

Because writing for the mobile web has an audience mostly using smartphones. Three things apply here:

  1. You are writing for the small screen. So the ability to quickly scan content is HUGE.
  2. People are used to interacting with their smartphones. They “touch” Facebook and Twitter. They can comment, like, or share easily.
  3. People are easily distracted on smartphones. If your content doesn’t load fast, they’re gone. If it’s not engaging, they’re gone. If they don’t “get it” fast, they’re gone.

We have our jobs cut out for us, don’t we!

Here are some tips for writing for the mobile web (these also apply to writing for the general web):

Think short:

  • write short, to-the-point articles
  • edit, edit, edit – make every word count
  • Stick to one idea, topic, or goal per post

Create strong titles:

  • Make titles short. The BBC uses 5-6 words per title!
  • Front-load the title with appropriate words to make the point of the article clear and understandable out of context (i.e., for search engines)

Create actionable content:

  • Focus on the benefits of using the product or service, not the features. What’s in it for the reader?
  • Have a next step or call to action in each article. (i.e., check out this book, attend this program, etc.)
  • Always link to things you talk about (i.e., link to the catalog when mentioning books, etc.)
  • Frontload your content. The first paragraph of text should be stuffed with the most important content (think inverted pyramid).

Make content scannable:

  • No huge blocks of text – break up long paragraphs.
  • Break the rules and use fewer than 3 sentences per paragraph if needed. One sentence paragraphs are ok, if it looks correct on a mobile device!
  • Use headings, subheadings, lists and bullet points. These help make the content scannable.

Be conversational:

  • put your readers first. Speak to them, not at them. Use we and you.
  • Use informal, conversational writing. Blog posts are a conversation!
  • Ask questions, ask for a response.
  • Type like you talk. Read your content back to yourself. If it doesn’t sound like something you’d actually say, re-write it so it does.

Other articles:

What should be added here? What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

photo by Robert Patton