Elbow Deep in Design

I was pretty busy today working on three designs:

* Works in Town postcard
* Book Sale Yard Signs
* Touch ups to the Museum Passes brochure

I’m fortunate that our print house offers some handy templates to show me how best to setup InDesign for their needs. This was my first full bleed non-bookmark project, so this was a little intimidating to setup at first. The lawn sign took about 40 minutes. I wanted to just use our logo + black text on a white background. I rolled around the fonts a little to do different emphasis. It’s plain, but I think it’ll be easy to read as you drive past in January.

Press Releases Good News + New Digital Signs

This morning I spotted a copy of one of the local newspapers. The Town’s two newspapers are weekly, so we only have to check once a week to see if our press releases got in. Two did! I congratulated the departments on their good work. Then I fired up Asana where I added the details about which articles were approved in which newspapers. We’ll see over the next year if we can detect patterns.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

I didn’t have many “regular” panels to make this week. However, I had to address the issue of how a digital sign with light coming from behind looks way different than a physical sign even if they have the same colors. I made a digital panel with 8 variations on the selected color then went upstairs with the not-right printed sign to do a comparison. Two of my colleagues lent me their eyes on this project. No winners the first time. I went back downstairs and made another test screen. This time we selected something which will “blend” (as my colleagues described it).

Then I spent quite a bit of time re-working a few of the signs. You can see an example of one of them to the right. My secret to designing things: public domain images. This art is by Nakamura Daizaburo.

Yesterday I talked with one of the admins about signage and branding for a few minutes. She said that she liked that our signs are within a certain color scheme. It really ties everything together when all the signs are somewhere on the blue-green spectrum. While evaluating the digital sign, I stepped backwards and looked around the first floor. Yes, I could see what she means. It feels like we’re a little closer to my ideal of having a consistent feel like Target does: your brand colors everywhere.

Tomorrow I’ll share the fun video Krishna and I made to advertise the Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Just got to find some fun holiday music for the background.

Feeling Good

I was buried again, but at the end of the day, I feel fairly accomplished. We’re launching a heightened focus on NoveList next week and I’ve been working closely with Reader’s Advisory on the launch. I made that mockup a couple weeks ago and found out the pricing for a custom sign last week. I sent my colleagues to the Noun Project last week to look for icon ideas. The press release was sent out last week today.

However, today was the first day I really dug into it. By working so closely with everyone, today we developed the icon that then went into the logo. From there we chose colors, revised our previous vision, and made the desktop wallpaper. Tomorrow I’ll take the final measurements and do a color test before designing that custom sign.

I also did a mockup for new semi-permanent signs for our first floor. We’ll likely meet next week to solidify the plan before I make the final designs. This project makes me anxious though I was told the signs may go up for only two years. The previous signs I made have been up for nearly four years!

Them I created bookmarks to promote our Lonely Planet travel guides. That’s the project where we have a year-long plan for in place to promote it steadily.

I did a lot of planning today. The final interesting thing that ties into this was going through the items to promote our latest book groups’ video. We’re really ramping up publicity there, so it’ll be interesting to see the turnout in hits.

New Email Layouts

email_layouts_2016

The only thing that mattered to me today is setting up two different email designs for the weekly events email. Above is a sneak peek. I just sent the newer design off to three reviewers to see what they think. The new one is mobile-first, reduced images, and more playful. I reviewed MailChimp’s inspiration site for ideas before trying something new.

The email design might get rejected for not including summaries of the events. That was a concern the last time I ran the weekly email and was testing designs. This week’s email has 20 different events in it. They get long fast. I’m trying to tighten them up while still being bold and readable. We’ll see how it goes over tomorrow when they see that design…

On a good note, my boss complimented me on yesterday’s Need to Know emails about the new publicity workflows. A+ to me.

Mini Golf Lawn Sign

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

We’re gearing up for our upcoming Mini Golf fundraiser. I hit up several items on my to-do list over the past two days. This is the first time I’ve made a lawn sign, but it’s more or less the same design as the poster and flyers I’ve made for the past two years. What you’re seeing here are the samples I took to my boss. Once I looked at the print out, I noticed that they needed more padding. My boss then choose his favorite layout.

/done

Putting Asana Through the Paces

The following is a note to myself to go over what I did before I kicked myself thoroughly. Asana has great documentation, but it feels a bit overwhelming. Especially for someone who is inclined to just poke at it for five minutes then just keyword search my questions instead of patiently reading through the docs. Here’s what I did while testing a scenario:

Created a Publicity folder in my personal Gmail account and a Google Form + Response sheet.

Set up an Asana workspace titled “Publicity.” Created a project titled “Publicity Submissions Inbox” so that emails from the Google Form would go into there to then be assigned to projects themselves. Why Google Forms? It’s one of the two form products suggested on their site (the other is Wufoo).

Ran into an issue where I need a way to allow people to upload images and related documents since Google Form doesn’t natively allow that. I tried this method, but it just sends people an email which they then need to click through. There’s another option but it costs $30 (wait, may be free). Another option to try is this one. We’ll just need to have an HTML page uploaded to our server somewhere.

OR I could create a JotForm which allows attachments, send that to me, but then have Outlook auto-forward it to Asana. What I’m trying to do is just avoid me having to hand type this stuff up myself in Asana. I bet it’d work if I just had JotForm send the emails directly to Asana too… I’m not sure if I can have emails dump into a generic “catch all” inbox to then turn into projects or if I have to send them to a workspace first as I did with “Publicity Submissions Inbox” as a project described above.

Another challenge: how hard is it to change the descriptions into tasks in Asana? Emails are treated as a task. May be able to send a task directly to a workspace and skip the step of creating a project from each submitted task.

Started Using Asana
After fussing with the above, I decided to just copy my colleague’s publicity uh…to-do sheet into Asana. I pulled it into pieces then set up a little structure showing what’s due 4 weeks ahead of time, 3 weeks, etc. I then started commenting and adding attachments. I didn’t get the lawn sign finished so I can check-off one of the tasks, but will do so in the morning. I’m really excited to get that first checkbox.

On Monday I’m going to my first public service desk meeting to tell the department heads what’s up and the new publicity process. My boss agrees that a form would be the best way to gather data from staff. They’ll likely be unhappy since I’m going to require they start thinking about their projects way in advance. I’m doing that because the lazy rule has been to send me things three weeks in advance. That’s fine, I can usually get something done. But with such a short turn around, this means I can’t get it into the newspaper, the weekly email, etc. So by moving the date to notify me way out, this means we can look for patterns and figure out which pieces play well together.

For example, there were two different college programs happening recently. As far as I can tell, no one had thought to tie them together. My colleague who is over adult programming saw the opportunity and reached out to the other department. Now they’ve got a two-hit wonder program which makes the Library shine. That’s what I’m seeking to accomplish. Better value for our patrons’ buck.

Official New Website Announcement

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

This is it! We’ve told the world about us and what we’re doing. Check out the frustratingly small preview image of our new catalog. My boss told me about book recommendations now being baked into the works level (that’s right — works level! Thanks, James for getting this together). He hadn’t finished uttering the words when I spun around in my chair and slammed my fingers to the keyboard to check it out. Then I ran about the building showing my coworkers. Our new catalog is magical.

Pro-tip: it’s very awkward to fangirl anyone to their face, but I really can’t contain my delight with the catalog. The new website is cool, but that catalog…!

The press release from Darien Library

Darien Library is pleased to announce the forthcoming launch of its new website on June 1, 2016. The new website is designed to be a user-centric portal to library events, services, and materials. The new website will launch with SOPAC3, Darien Library’s ground-breaking new catalog system.

The new website overlaps with the catalog and provides a feature-rich patron account experience that includes integrations with the website’s event calendar. Users will be able to register and RSVP for events and keep track of their library activities from their profile screen. The system now also seamlessly includes both physical and digital checkouts on the account page, giving users the information and tools necessary to manage all of their circulation activity. Users are given direct control over their checkout histories and will now have the ability to maintain a wish list of items from the catalog they may want in the future. Numerous other features have been introduced, such as integration with Darien Library’s eCommerce system, Envisionware, so that users can now check their account balance in addition to their fines and fees.

The new system introduces linked accounts. Linked accounts allow family members to link to other family members’ cards so that they can, for example, conveniently see what their children have checked out without having to log in separately. This is a feature that was designed and introduced as a result of direct patron feedback. We believe this will make the web experience for parents and caregivers much easier.

Darien Library has adopted a completely new paradigm when it comes to the new catalog interface. SOPAC3 abandons the bibliographic record level search and uses its own works level concordance at the discovery layer. From a user experience perspective, this is a game changer because it organizes all content types for a title into a single record. No longer will a user see one record for a book, another record for large type, a record for each ebook vendor, and yet another for audiobook. They will see one result with a simple, easy-to-use interface to select the format of their choice. E-Content from Overdrive and Bibliotheca (formerly 3M) can be checked out or placed on hold directly from the catalog with a single click. Work views feature a “look inside” option for previewing titles as well as embedded audio excerpts. Integrated book recommendations are powered by Zola Books’ “Bookish Recommends”.

The website has been designed to be clean and responsive so that it may be viewed on mobile devices. The new website has been in planning for several years and in active development since October 2015. Design decisions were influenced primarily by direct member feedback. The User Experience department at Darien Library wants the new site to feel natural, be a pleasure to use, and become a seamless companion to the library experience.

New Library Website: Staff Photos Finished

I wrote earlier about learning how to set up lighting for our staff photos. After about 30 hours of work in taking the photos, sending them to staff to select their best shot, retake some photos, process the photos, and finally upload them to our staging server. Here is the fruit of that work. You’ll be able to see it in full size very soon.

The stated objectives of this project was to take photos which share a common background to look more uniform on the site. I decided that people should be more or less in the same pose.

Courtesy of Darien Library

Courtesy of Darien Library

Lessons Learned
I set up the photo studio alone, so the lighting is best for my own skin tone. This didn’t always work so well on others. Some photos turned out orange. I’d drag the main light back and forth to try and lessen the effect. After I attached the laptop to the camera so my colleague could see the photos as they actually are, I was able to straighten this out a bit. However, I still had to do some color balancing to fix orange casts on some photos.

At my current age, I’m still wrinkle-free so the lighting fell smoothly across my cheek. For some colleagues, the lighting spilled across their face to highlight their smile lines in an unflattering fashion. Perhaps I shouldn’t confess to this mistake of mine, but it was a serious issue that had to be lessened in Photoshop afterwards. I have a strong belief in treating others’ photos the same way I’d want my own to be handled: if it’s unflattering, don’t post it.

The same pose does not work for all people. I had people lined up so their toes pointed in one direction, rotate their heads to another, and then move their eyes to the camera. This pose did not always show people to their full advantage. I won’t correct this now, but there are a few people whose photos I’ll retake post-launch in order to do better by them.

I was hoping for a tool that would make it easy to batch resize and crop the final photos for the web. No such thing exists it seems. So I took several crops of my boss’ photo and sent it to him to choose the one he liked best. Then I set up guidelines in Photoshop (top of head, chin, left edge of face) from that. When I pasted in a new person’s photo, I’d freehand resize it till it fit those dimensions. This worked in most cases, but the tilt of some people’s heads or their fluffier hair may have thrown this off-kilt. In those instances, I tried my best to accommodate and make the photo work for them.

Finally, I could not tell the final results of the photos until I saw them all together today. Then I reopened some files and made final adjustments: contrast, vibrance, color correction, curves, and levels in order to create a pleasing equilibrium across the photos. Some people’s photos look wonderful on their own, but when paired with others, they needed a little more oomph in some way.

New Library Website: Request a Study Room Form

I’ve received permission to blog about my work on our library’s new website. We kicked off this project on May 5, 2015. Later I’ll write more about what we’ve been up to till now. For tonight, let’s look at the Request a Study Room Form.

Features:

  • If you enter a card number which doesn’t start with 21517, you get directed to a Whoops! page.
  • If you are a ***** card holder, you can then make your reservation. You may not request any date in the past, further than 30 days out, today, or on any day the Library is scheduled to be closed through the end of 2018.
  • Shows the Library’s hours when you go to enter your time request.
First Screen

First Screen

The form is built using JotForm as introduced to me by Andromeda Yelton. The theme is customized by me to match our new website’s design aesthetic which is built on top of Bootstrap. JotForm allows me to create a highly customized theming, conditional logic, and filter submissions to the appropriate person. This particular form is only going to our reference department, so that is straight forward. I have additionally customized the submission form email so our logo is in the header. JotForm’s customer service is also top-notch. I was having trouble getting the conditional logic to work the way I wanted it to and their responses were fast.

If you're not a resident, you see this message.

If you’re not a resident, you see this message.

We’re pretty strict with who can reserve study rooms in advance. They’re a really hot commodity. The conditional logic here looks for the first few numbers of the card and if it doesn’t match our system, you get the above message. The wordsmithing is my own, but will likely be improved by the Head of Reference later.

The calendar limits what a user can do.

The calendar limits what a user can do.

If you get through the screening process, you now see the reservation form. Initially, I had wanted the form to be hidden based upon conditionals, but the “Whoops!” message showed up even before you got to the end of the line. So I broke this form into three sections: library card number, Whoops!, make a reservation request. This worked out beautifully. I then hid the back/next buttons so people couldn’t “escape.”

Anyways, the calendar here shows that you can’t reserve for today (CSS trick) nor can you book more than 30 days out per our rules. It’s a pretty sweet setup. The weakness here is that I can’t limit you from requesting a time when we’re closed. The workaround method is that when you get to the time, a little hover shows up with the Library’s hours.

Once the form is submitted, you are told that you’ll receive a response by tomorrow. On the staff side, you get the little submission form which shows all the in-take information. We then make the reservation using an Outlook calendar.