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Library Website Design

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A libraries web site is the virtual front door to many of the services and information that it provides to patrons. There are several things that can be done to examine and evaluate the use of a web site. The first step is to start by gathering information about the libraries web site from a variety of different sources from user statistics to conducting a usability study. It starts by understanding your library patrons and anticipating how a web site might best effectively meet their needs.

If we anticipate the questions patrons have, we can better design and develop a web site that meets and may even exceed their exceptions. One of the best ways to gather information about the needs of patrons is to illicit feedback from the librarians and staff who work with patrons on a day to day basis. This includes, but not limited to librarians and staff members who work at the reference desk (adult, teen, and children's) and the circulation desk. These are the front lines of the library where we get to communicate with patrons on a daily basis. The information we learn in these situations can be directly incorporated into the services a library offers through their web site. For example, if you have many people going to the circulation desk to renew a book instead of using the libraries web site this is an indicator that patrons either can not find the service on the site or do not know that it exists.

Another great thing to do is to take a look at the reference statistics and the questions that patrons are asking at the reference desk. The information that you collect is great resource to understand the types of information people need help in locating. If you have a high number of questions that are similar in nature the...

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... do not read every word on each page, but instead scan them to find what we need. We tend to focus on words and phrases that sound like they match what we are looking for. For example, the Web of Services (http://www.w3.org/standards/webofservices/) web page uses headings and text that is grouped together and is easy to scan from top to bottom.

This has been a very brief evaluation of the World Wide Web Consortium's web site. Other important things that need to be considered when evaluating a web site are: writing for the web, providing the information that people need, accessibility testing, and the services that are offered to users. This web site is probably the most useful site that I use on regular basis because of the information that it contains.

Works Cited
Nielsen, J. & Loranger, H. (2006). Prioritizing Web Usability. Berkeley, California:New Riders.
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