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Small Link Dump

7 Essential Guidelines for Functional Design – Another great one from Smashing Magazine. These ideas need to be at the core of a library website designs/redesigns. Clearly define your purpose and build around that.

Also, The Social Web and Libraries: Listening to Your Community, David Lee King. I couldn’t have said it better myself. (Really, I mean that.)

PLOW – Putting Libraries on the Web. Via State Library of Iowa.

Your Library Site – I dunno about this one, there’s a heck of a lot of coming soon content.

BookSprouts – Online book club communities.

Way on back in Jan 07 I used a few examples of library websites that didn’t exactly work all that well. Both have been redesigned since then and all I have to say is way to go CPL! The site now looks a hundred times more engaging than this, and it would most certainly not be on that same list today.

Inspiration

Looking for design ideas? Design degree or not there’s nothing wrong in gaining inspiration from else where and this is just as important in web design as it is anywhere else. So fasten your seatbelt for a crash landing into some great creative design. (Note: You may want to have a napkin ready as quite a few of these can make you drool over their awesomeness.)

CSS Zen Garden – The original. A showcase for the power of CSS and a repository of great design. Each example on this site uses the same framework but makes the look completely unique.

CSSTux -“The best dressed sites on the web.” The description says it all.

The Best Designs – CSS and Flash designs tagged by category.

Pattern Tap – A site that offers both beautiful design and a powerful functionality. This site offers examples of good design in different aspects of websites, such a footers, 404 pages, navigation, and quotes.

Short List

I remember the days when the mighty directory was on the front page over at Yahoo; the days before Google and that little search bar took prominence. While I can’t deny the power of that massive web database I used to get a bit annoyed when searching through the list only pointed me to another website that was also an exhaustive list of links. It wasn’t just Yahoo of course, there were other web directories like that, where you never seemed to actually get to any real websites, just lists upon lists. So it’s not surprising that I have some issues with “resource sites.” However there are a few I find particularly useful, so here’s a (very) short list.

Web Developer’s Handbook – I use this one constantly. It’s a massive list (all on one page) of all sorts of web design/development resources ranging from inspiration to code. The good thing about this one is that the sites that link are direct, and not directories themselves.

20+ Free Web Design Ebooks and Guides – Can’t afford those expensive books? Well here you go. Arranged by category.

Web Design Library – A bit more commercial but useful anyway. Covers basics, code, scripting, and offers graphic design tutorials for a variety of programs.

Outline

Bear with me here:

1. Diagnostics

  • Importance of strong and attractive web presence
  • Do you need dedicated web space? / do you need to redesign?
  • Local government/county/corporate controlled web presence (must conform?)
  • Money matters (design fee/staff time/hosting)

2. First Steps

  • Getting that first idea
  • Deciding the needs of patrons and staff
  • Research!
  • Time table and tentative launch. (Give yourself at least six months.)
  • Outsourcing or in house? / Stakeholders

3. Process

  • Resources: templates, code, interactivity, etc.
  • Software/utilities (editors, ff extentions)
  • Good practices
  • Develop mockups, choose design, develop test version
  • Only launch finished product
  • Beta test with staff/patrons before launch

4. Upkeep

  • Fluid and always changing, never done
  • Web 2.0
  • New (but not scary) things

There has been some buzz lately about the future of library websites. The Library Web Chic recently wrote a post in the subject that invites looking at the topic more closely. One of the questions to be answered, and this can apply to any website as well, is the idea of focusing on merely getting people to use the website as they use the physical library or if the site should be more about experience. This can be likened back to a physical space in a way, the beauty of the building or what waits for the patrons inside. Libraries used to be mainly spaces for books and learning, for people to come and sit and read or do research. It was a quiet place were people got their books, were shushed for making noise, and then when they were done, left. These days libraries offer programs for the whole family, they encourage people to come and stay and consider the library more of a social place. And it does seem to be slowly merging into that, even if it still primarily involves people on the computers close to each other.

The idea of the virtual as social on library websites is a relatively new one.  Up until now there hasn’t been the proper technology and the idea of giving over any sort of control or freedom to the patrons to influence what was on the libraries virtual face was not one that would be well accepted. But now, with the push from Web 2.0 and social networking and software libraries are learning to innovate and to be more inclined to include these sorts of things. Libraries have all sorts of competition these days, from bookstores and the like, and so they’ve had to offer those programs to keep people coming and interested outside of just offering the latest James Patterson. Library websites have to do the same. Bokardo has a good short article on the idea of designing specifically for page hits (contrast that with circulation stats) or for user experience (program attendance) that is well worth a read. Offering programs and events as well as good customer service and a well developed collection adds value to communities. Online, allowing people to have their say, to be social and to see that the library isn’t some faceless place out of touch with the modern will hopefully do the same in the virtual arena.

Exactly what it sounds like. This video was posted by the previously mentioned Simple Spark the so called Web 2.0 indexing and search engine. The video shows the logos of all 5,000 apps they’ve indexed so far. The sheer speed of it, combined with the length is simply amazing to watch to realize the amount of services that are out there in the Web 2.0 forest. The logos aren’t in any kind of order, neither alphabetical or by popularity but it’s fun to see how many you can recognize when it’s running at full speed.

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