Ah, Twitter is a wonderful thing. I asked members of the Twitterverse to catalog the problems of library web sites, and my followers (as friends on Twitter are called) did not disappoint. I got responses not only from both library and non-library folks, but even a bit of international participation with a comment or two from Australia.
Here’s a sample of much of what I received:
- “Nonsensical links to products by name. Bookletters, EBSCO, iBistro.”
- “Branch hours/locations not easy to find from the library home page.”
- Having to…”scroll waaay down to bottom to find search box and then was Title(not keyword).”
- “Animated gifs and blinking text.”
- “Focus on library materials and facilities, rather than how people use our materials and facilities.”
- “No site search. C’mon, time to leave 1998.”
- “Hiding your staff and/or hiding ways (or not providing them at all) to contact staff through the web site.”
- “Library jargon: what the heck is a ‘electronic reference database’ to the layperson?”
I saw at least one major theme here: many libraries don’t have sites that are intended for the end user. Too many library sites are designed around the perceived needs of library staff, rather than for their patrons. I encourage every library to take a good, hard look at their public-facing web site(s) and ask the question “Who is this really for?”
Here’s some additional sins I’ll add to the list:
- Can’t find the address and/or phone number for at least the main branch on the front page.
- Too much text on the front page. Don’t put the whole 3-paragraph story there; just a teaser. People scan the web; they don’t read. When I see too much text, I’m outta there.
What other problems with library web sites do you commonly see? Share’em in the comments!