Use the Front Door

A front door in Delft

If your library’s like mine, you have staff-only ways to access library stuff … things like employee parking, a staff-only entrance, a back-end way to access the library catalog, etc. Whenever I put a book on hold, I get it delivered via inter-office mail.

I never have to use the library like a patron if I don’t want to!

My question – is this a good thing?

Try using your library like a patron. Is it easy or hard? Is there something that frustrates you about the whole process? It’s probably doing the same thing to your patrons.

Here’s a thought – maybe we should create a “Work Like a Patron” week, where we only use the library like our customers do – use your library’s wifi (bonus points for using a Public PC), search using the patron version of your catalog, maybe even sit at those lovely desks in the library. Or hang out in a cafe, accessing all work- and library-related stuff from outside of the building. Use the front door, and see the library through your patrons’ eyes.

This works for the IT department, too. Use library employee tools like … library employees, rather than like IT dudes and dudettes. Is it hard? If so … it’s probably hard for the rest of the library, too. Make it work for everyone!

If it works wonderfully, great! If not, maybe you have some things to improve.

Answer these Questions for your Website

We’re in the midst of a website redesign for our library. As we start looking at content, links, buttons, headings, etc – stuff like that – you know what we’re thinking?

We’re thinking this: does this link/content/heading/etc answer these questions for our customers?

  • What can I do here?
  • What can I do next?
  • Why should I care?

Answering these are really hard! Think about it for a sec – take a pretty normal link, like the library web designer’s favorite – “Library Databases.” Answering that “what can I do here” question certainly gets into how you label that section of your website (’cause we all know that “Library Databases” means nothing). Perhaps something like “Find articles” or “do some research” might work better?

Or think about a blog post – answering the “what can I do next” question can be as easy as linking to a set of related articles, topics, or even related books at the end of the post. I do this on my blog – when you’re reading it on the actual website, when you finish reading the article, you’ll see a list of related blog posts I wrote. What’s this get you? Website visitors staying on your site for longer amounts of time. More clicks. Hopefully, more conversions – more people clicking “attend this event” or checking out a book, etc.

“Why should I care” is a favorite one of our library director, and it’s probably the hardest of the three questions to answer. One way to do this is in the content itself. So your first couple of questions get the customer to your content … and then your content itself will need to answer that “why should I care” thing.

The answer could be any number of things, ranging from “because you can borrow it for free” to “because you’re a small business owner, and these resources will help you be profitable.” See where I’m going with this? Another way to say “why should I care” is to ask “what’s in it for me” or “why is this interesting?” Give them that reason.

Give your customers a reason to stay on your site by having great content AND by actually telling them why they might want to stay. Do that, and my guess is that … they actually WILL stay on your site – your digital banch – longer, doing more things.

Could be a good thing!

pic by Marco Bellucci

Designing Digital Experiences for Library Websites

On Sunday, I had the privilege of presenting about digital experiences with John Blyberg, Bobbi Newman, and Toby Greenwalt. The room was packed, there were great questions afterwards … and I think it went well!

Here are the slides for my portion of the talk (and here’s a link to Toby’s too).

UGame – ULearn 2010 Symposium

I’m pretty psyched to be speaking at a number of cool places this year (if you’re really curious about my 2010 schedule, look at my presentations page – I try to keep that up-to-date with upcoming speaking gigs).

One conference I’m pretty psyched to be attending and speaking at is this year’s UGame – ULearn symposium. It will be held on April 1 in Delft, Netherlands.

OK – I admit. I’m geeked out about this one for a number of reasons here:

  1. It’s in the Netherlands! What’s not to like about that?
  2. I get to visit the DOK Library Concept Center, one of the coolest libraries ever
  3. I get to visit with some of my Dutch friends and colleagues who I usually only see online and at a couple of conferences
  4. Because this year’s UGame – ULearn symposium is all about the user experience.

Here’s more about the conference (from Jaap van de Geer):

“This year … UGame Ulearn … is all about the User Experience. Next to the use of gaming in educational programs and in libraries the theme of UGame Ulearn is always Innovation & Inspiration, with the focus on new services and products.

User Experience or UX has to do with the way customers or clients see your company, website and service. Is the experience satisfactory then they will come back, if not you may never see them again. The User Experience starts at home. Internet and the website play an important role, but also mouth to mouth and communication through communities such as Facebook and Twitter. How we can provide the best experience and which products can help us is the essence of UGame Ulearn 2010.

1st April the Auditorium of the TU Delft opens to welcome 700 librarians and educators. International speakers such as Michael Stephens, David Lee King and Gary Vaynerchuk will bring the visitors up to date under excellent supervision of our own world famous pod/vodcasting priest Father Roderick. This year we have decided to make the Exhibit Hall an important and interactive part of the conference with workshops and pitches and we make sure people have enough time in between speakers to visit the stands and listen to presentations on the latest innovations.”

So … if you’re able, come learn about the user experience with me! It should be a great symposium. If you can’t come in person, I promise to take good notes and post those … I might even post some photos and videos, too.

Here’s a video promo for the symposium:

Designing the Digital Experience Presentation

On Tuesday, I gave a Designing the Digital Experience presentation at Nassau Library System in New York. It was a fun time – lots of good questions and discussion!

So … here are the slides from that talk. Enjoy!