Tag Archive for ‘websites’

The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard

Japanese web and user interface design/branding firm Information Architects have a mini-manifesto called The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard that is making the rounds. Library websites could learn a few things from this list. Be sure to click through to the article to see their design philosophy in action and read some details about each of their points. But no calling me out about the default text size of this site!

Most websites are crammed with small text that is a pain to read. Why?

Don’t tell us busy pages look better
Crowded websites don’t look good, they look nasty.

Don’t tell us lots of links work better
Filling pages with stuff has never helped usability. It’s lazyness that makes you throw all kinds of stuff at us. We want you to think and preselect what is important. We don’t want to do your work.

Don’t tell us to adjust the font size
We don’t want to change our browser settings every time we visit a website!

Don’t tell us scrolling is bad
Because then all websites are bad. There is nothing wrong with scrolling. Nothing at all. Just as there is nothing wrong with flipping pages in books.

Don’t tell us text is not important
95% of what is commonly referred to as web design is typography.

Don’t tell us to get glasses
Rather stop licking your screen, lean back(!) and continue reading in a relaxed position.

There is no reason for cramming information onto the screen. It’s just a stupid collective mistake.

Again, read the full article, The 100% Easy-2-Read Standard.


make your library trendy

Trendy is a dirty word in libraries, isn’t it? It conjures up thoughts of sinking resources into flash in the pan ideas, harebrained schemes and jumping off of the bridge just because the cool kids are doing it. Even though many librarians would have us be above all of that, libraries still contain all sorts of fad-driven content: The DaVinci Code, CrazyNew Miracle Diet, Oprah’s Sad Book of the Month and so forth all take up valuable shelf space. The greater world of publishing has an effect on people’s tastes and libraries respond. That’s not so radical, is it? And if not, can’t we be just as trendy in our other services and things we do?

All of that for a simple link and some images. Via del.icio.us somewhere, here’s the Web 2.0 Badge Photoshop Tutorial. In just a few minutes I made these:

If you like any of these, please, use them! To put it at the upper-right of a webpage, use something like this:
<div style="position:absolute;top:0;right:0;float:right">link to image here</div>. Here’s the image as a photoshop document if you want to make it say something else or change the color.

Librarians live in between realizing that libraries are a growing organism and embracing every next new hotness. But a simple image can spruce up your website and is a lot easier to remove than 16 copies of Tuesdays with Morrie.

Happy Friday!


1 Dec 05

There is a fair amount of grumbling going on about the marketing of the Gap’s website redesign. signal vs noise and Power to the People take issue with this big, orange statement from the Gap website.

image from gap.com

The comment quoted by signal vs noise sums it up well:

They’re saying the right things, only they’ve got them backwards. “Latest technologies”, “innovative tools,” and “new features” are pretty much meaningless if the “shopping experience” isn’t better. Now, I don’t want to pick on Gap, but this illustrates (rather well) the point I’m trying to make: Put the people first, then devise simple solutions — the experience is what matters.

This sentiment is really useful not only for our library websites, but our institutions as well. This just another way to state the importance of putting our focus on our users. All of the great technology in our libraries shouldn’t exist for its own sake, but rather should exists because it helps.

However, regarding their criticism of the Gap’s placement of emphasis, I’m not convinced that we need to be telling our patrons that we’re attempting to create an experience. People don’t really want to be told that they are going to have an experience. Talk of experience in PR can smack of marketing jargon and be a major turn off. In other words, it isn’t useful for an institution to proclaim, “We’re user-centered,” or “Come here for an experiential transaction.” Customers and library patrons know full well if an institution is user-centered or if they’ve had an experiental transaction without (or in spite of) being told that they’ve had an experience.

What are we supposed to tell our patrons then? If and only if it were true, I think one great slogan for our libraries would be:

Libraries. We’re easy.

It’s short, catchy, to the point and memorable. The rest of the story would be told with our actions. We’ve got a ways to go before we can pull that one out.

Day One of Computers in Libraries

There are a number of things I’m slightly busting at the seams to post about. I must say that it has been an inspirational day.

David King talked to a room packed with people about an excellent way to frame a library’s website: a user targeted design. It was a full and rich presentation, but I’ll try my best to sum it up in one sentence. A user targeted design has updated content (generated in house and other), directed to a specific user groups.
To make it clear, user targeted design is niche marketing, making web pages for specific audiences. The reason I like this idea so much (and plan to make my library’s site more than half-way user centered) is because a user targeted approach also seems to be user centered. A really good tidbit from his talk was about promoting user targeted websites. King’s approach is to match other (targeted) materials with URLs of the targeted page. For instance, on a ‘Romantic Reads’ bookmark, he puts the URL of the matching content on the KCPL website. He also mentioned telling local community organizations about content on your site that is relevant to them.

Earlier in the day, Clifford Lynch gave an interesting overview of the past twenty years of libraries and computers. He didn’t spend much time talking about the technical innovations, but rather what these innovations had on data.

I spent some time reflecting on how much data there is today, how long it may or may not last, and what a huge change this is from the past. We’ve moved from a “scarcity of information” in the 80s to an abundance now. As the amount of data continues to grow, so will our methods for finding it.

Then in a session this afternoon, Stephen Abram brought up his “Internet as acorn” simile and mentioned that so far we’ve been in a period of slow growth. The oak tree will be much larger, and it will shoot up much faster than the germination period of the acorn. As is the trend, the changes that Lynch spoke about, impressive in their own right, are going to pale in comparison to what we see in the next twenty years.

Another topic that both speakers covered was images on the web. Lynch noted how images are quite standard now, freeing physical objects in a way. Pictures are now a part of discourse. These visual surrogates are important for all of the visual learners in the world (i.e. the people that learn in ways different than the 20% of us that are text-based librarian-type learners). The underlying implication is that libraries should be involved with this trend and involve visualization in their repertoire. Perhaps part of virtual reference systems of the future will be a full replication of your library’s physical space and your own avatar to use to interact, communicate, and collaborate with your patrons.

Now I’m going to run through my ‘Dead Technology’ presentation. A bit of jocularity tonight is going to be a relief for everyone I’m sure!



Stuffy made my morning with a post about someone writing a script to send an RSS alert when his library books are overdue. I wonder if there is some password protection involved with his feed. Also, I wonder what could be accomplished using the email to RSS site Dodgeit.com. Many libraries offer overdue notification via email, so a rudimentary RSS notification system could be put in place simply by giving a library a dodgeit.com email address. Of course, anyone, should they stumble upon the feed, could read it. Choosing a very obscure email address ([email protected]) would be a somewhat reasonable way to prevent that.

I visited the site of the guy who wrote the script, Reinvented, and saw that he wrote a few other scripts too. First there’s a feed for new DVDs in his library and also quick URLs for linking to ISBNs.WOW. Seeing this kind of enthusiasm in library is exciting.

In a certain sense it is a shame that he had to go to the trouble of writing these things himself. It would have been nice for his library to provide these things for him. On the other hand, every library has limited resources (often times very limited) and can’t be all things to all people. The flipside to this thought is that libraries should be leading and guiding people in their intake of information. If libraries offered these things, they could introduce many people to new ways of dealing with information. That’s a vision I like.

This being said, my library website has active RSS feeds. As a matter of fact there is a feed for nearly every page. However, mostly due to screen real estate issues, there is no ‘XML’ graphic or the like advertising these feeds. I’m about to make some big changes to the library’s site (mostly backend, upgrading to MT 3.0) and plan to include info about RSS on the pages.