New Library Website Master Post

Are you interested in what went into the making of our new library website?

A Bit of Everything

I’m pretty tired right now, so a quick rundown on the day’s publicity manager work:

* Emails
* Figure out trim lines for a patron’s Photoshop file (took longer than I thought, but I’ve never done it before)
* Help a colleague
* Post up the teen librarian job post (special formatting) and publicize it
* Work on making a bookmark about the top 10 reasons to become a member of the Library. My new colleague had created an idea template and had shared it by Google Drive. I then translated that into ultimately six different designs. She needs to get back to me on the final one.
* Removed two summer colleagues from the website.
* A 90 minute meeting with the Head of Adult Programming. This was an extremely productive meeting. I came to it with two pages of a handwritten form of questions to ask her. She was so well-prepared that I went back downstairs with six pages of notes.

Next week I’m meeting with three members of Readers’ Advisory to get their publicity info.

165 Feet

I rolled into work early this morning as I had traded my desk hours to attend the Facebook Analytics class. It was slow at first and I was able to publish some booklists. A patron I met recently sent me a PSD file to take a look at. Just about then it began to get busy and I never got any further on it. The questions were coming steady. Scanning photos was a popular request. I was late leaving my shift since Photoshop decided to ignore my batch processing for re-saving TIFFs to JPEGs. I recorded the steps repeatedly then watched it fail again and again. Even as it flashed through the actions, it showed “Save as JPEG” but spit out more TIFFs in the destination folder. It was very frustrating.

I ran out the door and through the parking lot to head the 90 minutes away to the class. Google Maps has this cool new feature where you can now say “find me a [restaurant]” after you setup your final destination point. When I got close, I did this and had it route me to grab a burger. I sat in the parking lot outside the center shoving the burger in my mouth two minutes before class started. Trying to fix that Photoshop error had made me really late.

The class’ first half was pretty great. The main thing to point out is when you’re on your Facebook page, click on Insight then on Local. If you scroll down, you can see a radius of 165 ft of your location. It will tell you some basic stuff about how many Facebook users were logged in (visiting FB?) within 165 ft of your location. These include FB users who are not following your page. I thought that was the best part. We have a graveyard to the south, a car dealership across the road, a police station behind, and a sandwich/floral shop to the north. People within 165 ft of us are likely visiting the Library.

Bad Google.

Bad Google.

Facebook also tells you about the popularity of users being at your business based on day of the week and time of day. I brought up Google to see how FB compares to Google’s ratings. Similar. Then I saw a mess up. Last week or so, I spoke on the phone with Google Business about there being a knowledge pane (shows up on the right in search results) which listed the library’s name with three additional words. The guy promised he’d ditch the 5-word name and have just the real knowledge pane. Welllll, now only the wrong 5-word pane shows up. It isn’t even attached the official Google Plus page for the Library. My photos aren’t there. Instead there is a photo of some folders with the Library’s logo. So I reported it again. Here’s to hoping they get this cleared up soon.

My new job isn’t really that different from my old one. I’ve been chasing down how we appear in search engines and our rankings for years now. It’s just now officially my job to do so. Before I was just the webmaster. Now it’s about publicity management.

Finally, the state library training center has loads of professional books. After hearing about the three month lending period, I went wild. Eleven books are sitting in my house now waiting to go with me to work tomorrow. Hopefully by reading them, I’ll get a real handle on this whole publicity thing. My brain is already constructing charts and spreadsheets to track the data. I can’t wait.

Digitization & Poster

I attended my last physical therapy session this morning, so I was a bit late for work. That along with the goodbye lunch for our summer UX colleague means that I didn’t have much time to work on my projects today. The main things were a surprise 1-on-1 on slide digitization and creating a poster for a genealogy program on digitizing photos.

The first poster was straightforward and serious with some camera lenses sitting on a pile of old photos. I then looked at its blandness and thought, let’s go bright. The Taj Mahal came to mind so I found a great CC photo and whipped up a pink box to highlight the program. It felt a little risky, but once I mounted it to the wall, I knew it was right. The brightness really captures your eye. When we discuss digitization, we’re not talking just old photos but our recent memories too.

Publicity project requests are coming in from my colleagues. One was for a bookmark and a brochure. They shared a Google Doc with me outlining a very simple layout of what they were thinking. I wrote back a little confused since I thought we had settled on a brochure. No, a bookmark. With any luck, I’ll be able to share that design here on Thursday. I know what they’re thinking of, but I just had an idea of making the bookmarks a little more punchy and fun. “Gotta catch ’em all” if you will. The idea probably won’t fly, but we’ll see! Another project is for an open house which will happen when I’m away next month. Trying to put something together for that in this short amount of time will be difficult.

Otherwise, I confirmed a meeting with Readers Advisory which will consist of three members of their department. I’m currently just data gathering to learn where their ideas originate from, timelines of development, what constraints (time, people, skills) make their work difficult. A three member team coming to what I have in mind may be a bit over the top, but they may play well off each other. Everyone probably has a piece of the puzzle or remembers a detail that someone else would have forgotten.

Finally, I had an idea I want to approach the adult programming librarian on. Years ago I had asked her predecessor to work with me on tracking how publicity efforts influenced program attendance. That idea was never carried out, but hopefully in my new role I’ll be able to pull it together. In my years as a UX librarian, I uncovered a lot of assumptions people had which may not have been held out when researched. I wonder what ideas we have about our communication efforts will be overturned once we shine a light on them?


In the grand tradition of Mondays everywhere, I spent quite a bit of time setting up my week. This meant scheduling meetings from weekends that came in over the weekend, evaluating what things I had planned could be moved to make way for these new things, and then digitally thumbing through my calendar to check out how much time I have left before my big trip. The Staff Art Show is only two weeks away. I sent out a form asking for people’s info for their labels and bios for the website. We also have our department meetings on Mondays, so I wrote down a list of projects, meetings, and general items to alert my group to.

The phone rang before 10 a.m. To my great surprise, I was invited to be a guest speaker for a staff meeting at a library two states away. I couldn’t address it then, but I asked her to email me. In the evening, I wrote up an outline of that talk and sent it over for her perusal.

The rest of the day involved getting six 24 x 36 inch posters printed, meeting with three people for resume reviews as a step-in, and arranging for a staff photo shoot. These three items ended up being much more stressful than anticipated. It all worked out in the end, but I left work with a squished fingertip and a goose egg above my left eyebrow.

Publicity? I need to setup an editorial calendar system. All day I tried to come back to this, but alas, other duties called!

Introducing the Publicity Manager



I’ve hung up my hat as the library’s User Experience Librarian. I am now the Publicity Manager. This is not the end of UX at my library nor the death of the UX librarian. Instead, my focus has changed. Broaden. Instead of looking at the miniscule so much, I will be in charge of overseeing how publicity moves through the Library itself. Since this change just took effect on Friday, August 19th, there will still be some echoes of my UX librarian self in the weeks ahead. That and I’m going to New Zealand for half of September. It’ll take me a bit to get up to speed.

Since this is something new, I’ll try to blog about my work more as I learn through this new journey. My first big project was started months ago and will premiere on September 7th: the Staff Art Show. On Wednesday, I’ll attend a Facebook Analytics workshop. What awaits me on this new arc of my career?

Thought Experiment: Then & Now Maps

You know when you look at Google Street View how you can sometimes click in the upper left corner to see what the site looked like the last time the Google car came through? I want that for historical photos. After doing some research on the topic, here are some potential leads on putting that together:

  • Leaflet for open-source mobile-friendly interactive maps
  • Pinbox.js for tacking historical photos over modern day locations
  • Time Machine, a WordPress plugin, to show what posts were published on this date for another interactive layer if you connected it to articles
  • Embed content into Google Map InfoWindows
  • Google Maps Easy, a WordPress plugin, for some very interesting ways to display content

My idea is that you could add historical photos or postcards to a map location. Then the pop-up window would allow you to click through time. Originally I thought about using those image comparison options like Before-After.js, but it restricts you to only two images. I dug around for a moment to see if I could find some way to add more images, but nope.

There’s likely a more complex way to do what I’m trying to achieve, but it’s likely cost prohibitive. Putting together this system I’m envisioning using open source tools would be very time-consuming. There’s gotta be a better way. But for now, it looks like a dream I could turn into reality (if you didn’t care about copyright of those images).

New Library Website: Card Sorts

Previously, I discussed the navigation and faqs for the new website. This time we’ll go over the card sort process to organize those FAQs. I had approximately 50 questions to organize in a semi-logical way. The questions could loosely be arranged into groups. For e.g. all the website account questions went together. All the fax related questions were made to be together too. So that is the first hierarchy which I grouped things under. These headers had to then be grouped in a few different sections. The particular page we built uses tabs to direct you to more specific information.

Courtesy of Darien Library

I recruited three people to help with the card sort. Each header was written onto strips of index cards. I also brought a stack of blank ones so that new categories could be added. Each session was approximately 30 minutes. It was a little tough not offering commentary, but I did ask them questions about what they were thinking as they went along. As you’ll see, one person’s card sort was so perfect that I pretty much lifted it entirely for the website itself. Another person didn’t quite get the exercise so their help wasn’t quite as useful. The other repeated, “Keep it simple” multiple times as she worked. Once things were sorted and organized, I’d then ask them about the phrases. Was there a better term that could be used? I believe three headers were changed thanks to this exercise.

This is for the FAQ page as gathered from staff feedback on the most common questions they answer for patrons. On the new website, I need to organize these questions into common categories. Your task is to do the organization in this workshop. This is called a card sort. Two other people will also do this activity.

Why do you put X into that category?

Should anything’s title be changed?

What would you call these categories?


Card Sort 1 Courtesy of Darien Library

Card Sort 1
Courtesy of Darien Library

For the first card sort above, I met with our longest term staff member (40 years now?). She was working on the reference desk at the time, thus our limited amount of room to work.

Card Sort 2 Courtesy of Darien Library

Card Sort 2
Courtesy of Darien Library

The above card sort produced my favorite results. You’ll notice that I used the same category titles that was suggested. This person practically did all the work for us!

Card Sort 3 Part 1 Courtesy of Darien Library

Card Sort 3 Part 1
Courtesy of Darien Library

The results of this card sort (image above and below) was looking for fewer main categories and wanted greater simplicity.

Card Sort 3 Part 2 Courtesy of Darien Library

Card Sort 3 Part 2
Courtesy of Darien Library

New Library Website: Navigation and FAQs

Our website’s main navigation was decided primarily in a staff meeting. My boss coded it live, dropping into the files to change terms and order on demand. It was quite impressive — and you could see it on the faces of the staff. We then discussed which icons to use. I was late for the meeting since I had a one-on-one pre-scheduled, so I don’t know how the meeting was introduced or set up.

We then spot-checked it with some patrons to see if it made sense what we called things and how items were grouped. The comment I heard repeatedly was, “Oh. If I just look at this and read it, I can see exactly how it is organized.” This isn’t exactly Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Them Think, but patrons were quite excited about seeing the pattern.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

The navigation on our new site is entirely different from the old. Our new site is mega menus and added different ways to think of the information. For example, we have under Services, pages designed for specific patron types/needs: business, parents, teachers & schools, students, job seekers, and home-bound. On the old site, the main nav was My Account, Catalog, Events, Services, Kids, Teens, Community. Then you’d find some sidebar menus to go deeper. The new site goes for landing pages. I wrote the content to be brief as possible and then if needed, direct you to a deeper level page.

The FAQs page was born in that big staff meeting. I wasn’t sure about it. If we did our job right, we wouldn’t need to have this filler page. I had even recently read a tweet by someone big name in information architecture proclaiming that stance. But staff insisted it was a wise move. The concession I wrangled out was that we not call it FAQs in the top menu but spell it out. I’ve been on the internet for a long time, but FAQs aren’t as popular of a term as it was in the early 2000s!

Courtesy of Darien Library

I needed information to put together the FAQs page. So I sent an email out to staff asking them to put the questions they hear most often under their department name in a shared Google Doc. I let staff know that they didn’t have to bother reading what other departments wrote, I’d do the weeding of duplicates myself. It took a little prodding, but I got the responses. :-)

If you ever work with me, you’ll see that I live and die by bullet points, so I made nice little bulleted lists and organized the questions a little bit. Then I struck them out as I answered them in the FAQs. If I had a question, I’d write down what confused me and then date it. When I was done with a department’s section, I’d then email them for clarification on what they had meant.

Then began the work of answering the questions and weeding out ones which didn’t apply to the website. I hope I used friendly language to get to the heart of the question while also not being too intimidating. For e.g., for the question of “Why do I have a fine on My Account?” I wrote:

Oh no! We’re sorry to hear that. Fines are caused by three things:

  • Item not returned on time
  • Item is lost or returned missing a part (like a CD)
  • Item is damaged (this is a replacement fee)

The Library attempts to keep you aware of when your items are due by:

  • Offering a checkout slip which lists the due date
  • Sending you email reminders
  • Listing your checked out items on your website account

If you need a receipt of what you checked out, please see the Welcome Desk.

Stats show that the FAQs is one of the most popular pages on the website. This confused me a bit until I realized that it’s the help link on the account login page. So far I’ve only had to go in to add more information to the page once since June 1st. However, just because we had a lovely batch of questions answered doesn’t mean it was easy to figure out how to organize them! In my next post, I’ll write about the card sort process.