CIL 2011 — Improve Your Website Now

Speakers:  Laura Solomon; Alexandra Zealand; Stacia Aho and Jonathan Newton

OPLIN provides databases to the public libraries in Ohio.  Laura says libraries often have the phrase “OPLIN databases” written on their site.  She maintains this is but one example where libraries could improve their website by simply spelling out acronyms.   She recommends Stephen Krug’s book, “Don’t Make me Think”, when writing for a website  She also gave other advice:

  • Don’t write big chunks of text, “The mission of our library is to .. “.  Libraries often put missions on the page, no one cares.
  • Weed your graphics – is big download time worth it?   Clip Art is EVIL.  Better to use stock photography (there are free and cheap sites for this).
  • Don’t waste prime real estate on weather and news – people don’t come to us for weather and news.
  • Don’t use exclamation points; professional writers don’t use them.  Library Website = Boardwalk property.
  • Other Points:  Don’t put a picture of your library building on the front page—you’re not selling your building. Every library should have a logo; Put your address and phone number on the front page;  Digital camera photos are huge in file size, use http://webresizer.com to shrink the file.

The rest of the presentation was by the staff of the Arlington VA Public Library, http://library.arlingtonva.us/Departments/Libraries/LibrariesMain.aspx#.    The library is a department of the county government, relies on the county web, and must use the county web template.  They convinced the county to use their own library brand, wrote a news blog, and created tags that link the main news blogs to the branch page.  They also started a Facebook page and Twitter that linked back to the main news blog,

The main goal was to give a “modern face” to their main web page, and to also provide information for the branch websites.  The key to their project was the creation of a main blog page, which they keep up to date with news, events, and also posts from Facebook and Twitter.  They used free blogging software as an aggregator.  Chose Google’s Blogger because of ease of use and its ability to blog from a cell phone.   To tie everything together, they used Branch tags so that the Branch pages receive local info on their site from the main blog.  They used both FeedBurner and Yahoo Pipes to do this.

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