My colleague is teaching a Python course. It’s so popular that it’s got a waiting list 3x longer than the registered list. He kindly made a short resource guide to share with others. I had fun making this page to represent it.
Check out my paperweight for five years of service!
I spent roughly 2.5 hours today on desk today. About 90 minutes of that was trying to write an email to a patron to ask for specifications about their print job. The joint was hopping though so a 3 minute email reply took 90 minutes to craft. I also learned the special kind of hell it is for a paper to be written in tables. Trying to format that into a legible format was very trying. It took about four attempts, but we finally got it converted to text and cleaned up.
Off-desk, I worked on a flyer for a very special program that’s coming up in January. The main thing I learned is that the public domain images for cupcakes, cakes, birthday cakes, and balloons is very poor.
Do you know if you convert your library’s Facebook account into a business account, you can add Services to it? We made the transfer so we could buy ads on Instagram. Insider tip: this gives you an extra hurdle to do anything even something simple like post on your account.
I couldn’t figure out what I should really do with services. There is pretty much no info on FB itself (kept 404-ing) and the web wasn’t talking about. So I winged it.
Things to know:
* You can’t adjust the images’ location like you can for your profile pic.
* You only get 200 characters to describe it.
* I chose to use generic terms for services (i.e. not giving the actual name of our cafe) since I figured people would be searching for cafe instead of Cafe’s Official Name. I may even go back and change it out to Food and Drinks to be even more generic.
* I’m not sure what the best practice is for how many services to add, so maybe experiment with what looks right to you?
* Organize your services to be in most appealing order to your community.
The little bit of info I gleaned off the web is that Facebook Services is meant to be a way to connect users with local services. I hope it pans out for us! I’d like to talk with other libraries which are using the Services tab.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
The results of this card sort (image above and below) was looking for fewer main categories and wanted greater simplicity.
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.
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!
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.
I’m still not feeling up to doing the full write-up, but here are some shots of the final library websites I choose to inspire our current design. How many do you know? I mounted these onto a huge corkboard and displayed them at our visual design meeting. My colleagues got distracted by Skokie’s website and really honed in on that design. I choose these websites after completing the last feedback and “hopes and dreams” interviews.
As you can see in the image below, those interviews yielded nine pages of notes. That is 228 specific comments. I know who made which comments, but I hid the column from the team indicating who precisely wanted it. The spreadsheet is a Google Sheets, but I locked the hidden column so no one else could see it. I choose this route to give our colleague reviewers a sense of privacy so they would speak candidly. At no point did our team encounter an issue where they specifically needed to know who wanted something done. Instead I would stress the points which were repeated as being an area which we needed to address.
I printed out copies of the feedback and passed them around the table for review. The columns were:
- Category: Website, Catalog, Demographic Info, Website & Catalog, General, Website & General
- Type: Dream, Easy, Repeat, Requirement
- Assigned To
I then color coded it somewhat to show what were of immediate concern (red). Offhand, I know that the new site addressed concerns about a single home for events and giving people a way to indicate interest in events. Otherwise, I’d have to sit down and see how many of the dreams we responded to.
I’m fairly exhausted right now so I can’t put down too much right now. However, some behind the scene stats:
- 4 years and 11 months in the making — since my hire date
- 12 months and 27 days of active development work
- 4 people to build it
- 10+ staff members to add events and booklists
- 75+ pages at launch
- 100+ events at launch
- 50+ booklists at launch
- 15+ UX meetings
- 6 public training classes
- 6 user tests in the past two months
- 300+ emails over the past year on this project
- 55+ staff photos on the website
- 165 staff photo samples
- 300+ total staff photos taken