I’ve talked about all of these before, either in various presentations or blog posts. If you’re looking for a quick tune-up for your library’s website, you might try starting with these:
- Cut the text on the homepage. Nobody’s reading it. Honest. If you have more than a sentence about any given item, you’re likely turning people off, not attracting them. People scan a site’s homepage; they don’t read it. Big blocks of text tend to make it very clear to users that you have no idea how people actually use the Web.
- Quit using clipart. You’re wasting people’s time, attention and bandwidth. If there’s no real value to that graphic you’ve added, get rid of it. If it’s just cutsey or decorative, get rid of it. You lose extra points if it’s Microsoft clip art, too. Do you really want your library represented by the same clip art my fourth grader puts on his book reports? (Hint: the answer here is “no.”)
- Put your library’s catalog, hours, a link to “My Account” and contact information where it can be easily found. Sadly, these are mostly the things people care about. No, they’re not the same things your library’s staff probably care about. Note the disconnect? Yet another reminder that the audience for your public-facing website is, indeed, the public.
- Stop using exclamation points after all of the program titles. I’m (in)famous for this soapbox, but I’m up on it again…No, I don’t want to come to “Kool Kids Krafts!” Have some pride, and look professional. Do you see the Red Cross promoting CPR classes with exclamation points all the time? I seriously doubt it. Just because you’re excited about it, doesn’t mean you have to make your library’s website copy look like it was written by a middle schooler.
- Get the library’s mission statement off the front page. The mission statement is important–it guides everything that happens at your library. However, it’s not important to your library’s users. You’re sucking up prime real estate on your library’s homepage with something your users typically will only view as an obstacle. The mission statement belongs in the library’s “About Us” section, not wasting the time of the majority of users when they first view your library’s site.
There are many other issues I’ve seen with typical library websites, but most require more major effort to fix. Any other quick fixes you can name? Post in the comments.