The temptation is overwhelming. After all, libraries are friendly places, right? We wouldn’t want our patrons to think they weren’t welcome. It’s so nice and friendly to put a big “Welcome to our library website!” heading at the top of the front page, right?
Remember, every square inch of your library’s website is extremely valuable. Your library uses tax dollars to pay for it. It costs staff time (still resulting in spent tax dollars) to maintain it. In many cases, a patron will see your website before they ever see (and sometimes, instead of seeing) your building. Because that front page area is so critical, it’s essential that your library use it wisely.
That space on the front page, above the fold, is your library’s equivalent to “Boardwalk” in the game of Monopoly It’s the single most valuable space on your website. This is where the most important announcements made by your library should go. Typically, when I see “Welcome to our library’s website,” I know I’m looking at a library that doesn’t know how to best utilize its front space. I recommend using that space for promoting library programs that you really want to rustle up an audience for. Levy information. Weather closings. The big summer reading finale. Etcetera. That space is intended for things the library wants to promote that are truly noteworthy.
What does this mean to me, Laura?
Here’s the thing: if people weren’t welcome on your library’s website, you would have password-protected it, right? People are inherently welcome to your library’s site. They don’t need a literal, text-based welcome mat.