Seeking ten attributes of website design for participatory library – Part 2

Preface: Why am I scribbling notes in a blog post?

  1. The schedule says to read + I cannot read without questioning what I read + we are apparently to show we have “engaged” with the modules;
  2. It is somewhat like the posts by bloggers at a conference; except that
  3. Even if I am not completely synthesising as I go (because that will come later and there is an earlier assignment to complete) the prospect of publishing makes me tidy and organise my notes as I go… a pre-synthesis of sorts.
  4. Because I like to finish what I started (in Part 1).

(notings)

Lazaris (2009)

Ah, lovely: an easy to read organised article.

Aside from the assertions made as if fact without indicating why the author believes it, eg:

Bright colors will easily capture and hold a child’s attention for long periods of time. … colors make a big impression on children’s young minds.

And, aside from the apparently illogical argument: That because [apparently self-evident] not many websites aimed at adult audiences would succeed with the color combinations used in the screenshots he has captured (of sites designed for kids), we should when designing a site for kids, “use bright, vivid colors that will visually stimulate in an unforgettable way”.

In the end, Lazaris offers a neat summary of his points. None of them address the social networking theme of this subject, even if at least one example (Club Penguin) has social aspects to my knowledge.  I have no young children to hand with whom to test any of the arguments, which apparently rest on the fact that the big companies making the websites will have (because they can afford it) extensively user tested with children.

Oh, the article is not as interesting as a few of the comments it received:

  •  BTP (2010), described results of her actual testing, and made the point I thought while reading: that the “kids” range is so broad.  While she argues that it would not be possible to design for 2-3 year olds the same as for 8-9 year olds; as an unschooler I note that differences are less noticeable between ages than between interests and cognitive style.  Reading ability might factor in depending on the context; but the content will be most vital. Do read that comment, it is longer than I would quote but not too long :-). It also links to Jakob Nielsen’s 2010 Alertbox on usability in designing for children. One of the children in Jakob’s study appears to disagree with my view that age is less of an issue, except that it is based on the child’s language:

    Children are acutely aware of age differences: at one website, a 6-year-old said, “This website is for babies, maybe 4 or 5 years old. You can tell because of the cartoons and trains.” (Although you might view both 5- and 6-year olds as “little kids,” in the mind of a 6-year-old, the difference between them is vast.)

    whereas I have observed that children of the same age vary in opinion about what is “baby”ish often influenced by who is around them at the time.

  • MKH (2009) says that cross-language/culture comparisons could be interesting
  • Box (2009), on “constraints when designing educational kids websites” to be used in schools: quality of hardware, supported software (eg Flash, Java), and connection speeds, apply equally to libraries.
  • Sandy (2011) also reported from actual investigation with children: that they object to being patronised.  Sandy links to the Victorian (Australia) Education Department’s three separate target ranges. The pages appear to be directories to other sites, rather than material created by the department.  Potential use as start page perhaps.
  • p33p (2011) pointed out that Flash content is not served by mobile devices (whether Android or ipad).  (is that so? I thought it was just my Xoom?).
  • But it is only when Daniel (2011) (who works on Behind the News, according to an earlier comment) pipes in that the topic of interpersonal interactivity as experienced in social networking technologies (rather than just hyperlink interactivity) comes close to arising.

So, finally a reference to one social networking technology and one sociable self-publishing technology (Youtube).  However there is no analysis about whether any non-social website can be enhanced or improved by retro-fitting social features.  I suspect this OLJ activity is a red herring, or colluding in a delusion.

Purpose & ‘social’

For libraries considering designing websites for children, the first question is the intended purpose of the website. If it is to serve as a directory to “safe” or “educational” web resources for children to use in the library (sure why not invent another wheel) or to provide library-original content – then the ‘best practices’ the above article lists (if you can believe it) may be useful – for a limited period. 

Interesting questions: How many visits does it take before a child is bored by the library’s website?  OR: Which library’s children’s website is enjoyed by children the longest over repeated visits?

Otherwise, one would need to look elsewhere for ideas:

  • For libraries serious about being ‘participatory’ on the web with their community of children – what kinds of web-based participation are they open to, and if their young patrons are interested in that kind of interaction what would incline them to do so at the library website instead of the world-wide spaces designed specially for it? (Calls to mind a quote I have somewhere from Montaigne, about his willingness to make public (through his books) things he would not tell an individual man – is the local library too intimate an audience?)
  • Back to the directories:
    • Would there be a way to socialise this directory?  To reveal how often each link is used and enable children and their parents to express like/dislike (Vote) and leave comments.
    • Would a good catalogue be able to both capture and serve the links, images, descriptions and user-contributed data?  Do any libraries use their catalogues to store and serve website recommendations?
    • Is that a pointless line of enquiry because the success of social sites rests on their having many participants.  If I am looking at local and university libraries, perhaps their community of interested participants would be too small?  Unless we start talking about consortia efforts.

McBurnie (2007)

Libraries and MySpace

This article is very dated.  It is also weak. As evidence that a university is communicating “organically” rather than the “old” one-way style it points to its MySpace page having followers.  Nothing about conversation. The ‘friends of friends’ of those followers who represented a fraction of the university’s student body was described as “a wide audience” that the university would allegedly reach “by simply ensuring that the content on their page is current and useful”.  No evidence that followers read the university’s content.

Great then we get into the ‘can’s and ‘should’s with no evidence of positive impact. EG: Don’t be tourists…don’t dress up tired messages … be purposeful and “push users towards resources such as online libraries or catalogues”. “Libraries can help users by making more information rich profiles their ‘top friends’ and hence more prominent.”  Oh and this is good: ” libraries should treat personal messages via MySpace as they would emails” – respond in up to 4-7 days?

Governor, Hinchcliffe & Nickull (2009)

So far I’ve only made a skim read. Not seeing anything particularly new, or anything directly relevant to the task, the only takeaway I have for now is the summary in Chapter 4.1.5 of “five great ways to harness collective intelligence from your users:”

  1. Be the hub of a data source that is hard to recreate
    … such as Wikipedia … and eBay … Digg … and Delicious
  2. Gather existing collective intelligence
    … the Google approach.
  3. Trigger large-scale network effects
    …Katrinalist … CivicSpace … Mix2r
  4. Provide a folksonomy
    …Let users tag the data they contribute or find … make those tags available to others so they can discover and access resources in dynamically evolving categorization schemes
  5. Create a reverse intelligence filter
    …Memeorandum

Hyperlinking: Manners, engagement, voting

Readers might note that I did not link to the final articles.  They’re listed below if you want to read it for yourself. The final one was a book with no online source not behind a paywall of which I am aware.

My view on hyperlinking is generally to link as much as is relevant and potentially useful either to me reading back or a reader who falls here.  I also love it when someone who has discovered that I have linked to them, visits to see what I wrote and says something constructive. Therefore I will hyperlink even in cases of disagreement, when the prospect of discussion might be fruitful.

However, I also see the “voting” factor of a hyperlink. Search engines use them to give a target more ‘likedness’ as a relevance indicator.   In this case my reading was externally required. Writing about it was not required, but on the off-chance another student reads here, it is another opportunity for discussion–within that limited circle.

References Read more Seeking ten attributes of website design for participatory library – Part 2

Seeking ten attributes of website design for participatory library – Part 1

(notings)

aside:Self-discipline

Do we need to look at the basics of effective website design in every subject?  Who is not in more need of realistic practical team-based application than theory? Ah, to answer my own question even mental pathways need to be marked out by repeated treading.  Even so, couldn’t we focus on the subject? Sighs.

…self-discipline. Glen Edelson (2010). CC:BY/2.0 at Flickr.
aside: Starting point

My starting point would be from most recent studies on the fundamental goals of information architecture: findability and usability – and principles such as those outlined by Brown (2010) [pdf])

Reading agenda: ‘participatory’ attributes

This website section of module 3 begins “Imagine ten thousand members of the general public outside the entrance to your library…this is what your web and online presence is all about.”  This may be the ambition, but it is not likely to be true. “General public” implies the larger pool of community members who might not already be members and might not think about their library from day to day.  Given the size of the internet, your community members are as likely to be at the other side of the country or the world.  Bringing the community to the “door” (your website) requires (if you can resolve the relevance question) effort in all four of offline community presence, broader online presence, website information architecture and design.

Next it declares “How we engage our users and potential users with collections, research and online resources is all about web site design and social media presence. ”  I think it is all about whether–and if so how–community members *want* to (or would want to if they could) engage with library collections, collecting, and [fill-in-applicable] services. Are library goals and individuals’ goals aligned?

Audience Participation. amanda farrah (2008) CC:BY-NC-ND/2.0 at Flickr
How would this translate to community participation in library collecting?

Will this set of reading offer ME something new and reliable? Considering the topic of the module: “participatory library services” I will look to identify specific mention or demonstration of website attributes that seem likely to entice me to collaborate, converse, commune and/or create content.  AND/OR I will see how highlighted libraries incorporate social media within their websites.

For this to be useful for my final OLJ I would expect to find either:

  • ten that are new to me, or which I understand better now as a result of rereading in this subject.
  • ways that ahem “web2.0” technologies make a website more effective.

Perhaps if I am lucky
I might find examples
of excellent social media practice
to reference in the second assignment.

The task specifies four particular works, but I also have notes from David King’s presentation, do any of those speak to the library being “participatory”?

King (2011)

(worth noting that Topeka&Shawnee County Library’s (TSCPL) website (I think) and catalog have changed since David made that presentation–kudos on the catalog improvement TSCPL)

… convenience

  • for libraries to continue to appeal to community members they must address convenience
  • (compares to use of laptops with wireless internet, & DVD rental booths at McDonalds)
  • – [I agree AND believe this is doubly important if I am expected to feel inclined to ‘participate’]

… listening

  • first step in designing the experience:
    • search for mentions of the library in social networks… [I believe Aaron Tay, the ubiquitous librarian and the swiss army librarian have all explored more extensive network search strategies (for example how can you discover what people want when they’re not talking about the library?) – and a compendium of such strategies would be very handy.]
    • ask focus groups [Ask them what? if we’re aiming for ‘participatory’. ]
    • examine your website usage stats & hit-trails [I’d love to get a look at some of these]
    • observations – well this is fundamental IA (but if you’re not already ‘participatory’ what kind of observations would lead you to discover how to become so? )

… improving touchpoints

  • stickers on bananas – [triggered a line of thought about making it easy for library members to lifestream their library experiences. Applied to the website, it suggests having tweet/like-worthy content–or more than that: what would be the equivalent of members putting a sticker on their forehead and smiling?]
  • what do attractive children’s areas suggest?… marketing: having images that convey how desirable the library is as destination – meh; more on destination later
  • long lines – what is irritating about the website – FIX IT
  • consistency & wayfinding
  • don’t show “your process” – [not sure how that applies yet.]

… Going where people gather

  • mall – [does this necessarily equate to Facebook (etc) presence? or is it more:]
  • ensure you have a good mobile site. [will those ‘participatory’ elements function via mobile?]

… Its a destination

  • In terms of the website, is it just about showing what happens at the branches or
  • [is the website a destination or a doorway – should (?digital branch) show online library member activity (by library members)]

… Interaction

  • is key (I think, from his encouragement to bring staff photos and names forward, that he means between people)
  • “Foursquare, Go, Flickr, Facebook, yelp, twitter, youtube” [ and I know that TSCPL has buttons to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.  While most people might only want to follow, their site does not really make it super easy to lifestream about the library’s services – such as getting a personalised reading list: wouldn’t that be something some people would lifestream (I would)?]
  • “your staff” should be highlighted – [ I agree.  I’d like to know who I’d be dealing with if I go into the library, for that matter I wouldn’t mind seeing who will be handling my requests. Not so many people appear on TSCPL’s home website now, but faces (of leaders) are visible at “Contact us”… are these the people I would see if I walk in the door?  What does that say about ‘belonging’? And some of the blogs show who authors the blogs.  Although the capacity to comment is available on blogposts, I do not see many enticing discussion – and I could not see any indicators of open discussions to browse in case I felt like chatting. But would I?  Is it not possible that the social web lets us chat with people all across the world because/when we do not want to talk to people in the neighbourhood?]

Digression – Pinterest

Last time I had visited TSCPL’s website was to the digital branch blog: reading their post about exploring Pinterest.  They also had a “follow our Pinterest” button in the footer then, and are the pins new this week?  Browsing their pins again, this one…

… made me wonder “would it be great to be able to pin from a catalogue” (one that has book covers obviously)–ooh and to see in the catalogue how people have pinned an item?  It’d also be nice to add from my local library catalogue to My Library Thing “read not owned” category with a “@TSCPL” tag (actually it would be the initials of my own local library or the consortium from whom I borrow: @SWIFT). It would be good to offer an auto tag and the option to change / add others.  All of that (if it was used) sounds like a lot more work for the catalog – all of which I guess would cost the library more?

Would libraries fear too many draws upon their server by sharing the book covers? Does Pinterest draw from the original source every single time it shows an image?

But back to the point of my digression: David was talking about interaction – the big thing discussed about all of the social tools of the last decade is that success depends on what is in it for the individual.

What do tweeters want?
Something interesting & easy to tweet.
What do Facers want?
Something interesting to share in their timeline, or something worth commenting on in yours.

Mathews (2009)

I disagree about how much you can tell about a library from their website – if it is great it might just mean they lucked upon a great designer; or that library leadership values its website face – not necessarily all of the community.  For evidence look at all the lovely/slick websites whose catalogues remain crap, and who cannot promise an information response in under 48 hours (or a week).

… Promotion (participatory)

  • hm, not finding this very practical, yes you want to promote a lot, keep it refreshed so people have reasons to come back?
    • [I don’t go back to the library website until I’m looking for another book.
    • I want to receive an email notice when new exhibits or types of programs are planned, with the option to sign up to receive reminders of particular types of programs (eg author visits, but not children’s storytime, or advanced rather than beginner technology sessions). Sure I follow the local library on twitter but who sees every tweet?
    • On the other hand, when I become aware of an interest event I want to be able to share the event through different streams.
    • When I attend I want to be able to snap a picture of something remarkable to then share ]
    • When I visit the website I want to see what others have been saying/pinning/liking about the library or what contributions have been made from the community to local collections.
  • Orange County were used as an example (although that was 3 years ago, has it changed since?)
    Not necessarily striking, but what I would want (Account links) is easy to get to.
    • All the things I regularly want to do are in one spot (if not top left where I would expect). Request a Title! that is participatory – but not enhanced with social media technology (ie no indication of how many requests the library has filled, or its response speed). While I happened to be doing that I would browse current events. It doesn’t look participatory in an online sense, in that I cannot see what anyone else in the community is saying at/about/through the library.  From the home page, if you scroll down bottom left, you can link to facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Youtube etc.  Great to see stories being told in video –no captions 🙁 — and that the storytelling video collection (and I think events & databases etc) has share buttons; but there are no invitations to comment.
    • I would not care about those awards
    • I hate it when a menu link takes me to a different layout – to me pages that use different layouts should be set apart somehow – and the top navigation space should never change except to show when one is logged in.

… Segmentation

  • Different sites for young children and teenagers. [Okay, but so few libraries do it appealingly.  How many manage to appeal to a broad range of teens?
The Orange County Library System’s Teen website is colourful. But the important thing is how teens feel about it. I see no sharing buttons.
  • Oddly, Brian highlighted academic libraries, neither of which demonstrates his point well.  Orange County on the other hand, did.  Has anyone seen any examples of libraries successfully providing (at their websites) participation opportunities for different patron groups (let alone any patron groups)?  Local issues FORUMS anyone? (It would be pointless to provide subject forums because the wider world is better at that)   ]

… visual cues

  • use icons to break up lots of text [yes but: I think this has been shown to be insufficient – more important to trim the fat, chunk information carefully and work more on better navigation menus – it is certainly not evident at his example any more]

… inspiring photos

  • use wisely, showcase distinctive features. [but beware download burdens]

… always accessible search box

  • “Embed a search box on every page, maybe in the header or in the navigation bar, so patrons can perform a search wherever and whenever they want.” – I agree: when I do happen to browse my local library’s website I get very annoyed at the stinky menu system trying to get back to the catalogue. Beautiful example of search box at University of Virginia Library

    Its responsive! Marvellous. Great search box. My account at top right- YAY. Socia media buttons below the fold. More notes at Flickr
  • “offer a tabbed, federated search box” – it does sound attractive doesn’t it… but I haven’t seen very many achieve it well. Except Colorado State University Libraries:

    Love it. Clean, uncluttered, straight to the point, and easy to find everything else.
  • okay that was fun, but how relevant to participation is the placement & design of the search box? Essential perhaps: content is still the most important thing the library has to offer – but not quite the aspect on which I am supposed to be concentrating.

Mobile-Friendly Pages

  • As a library user – I want this, or an App
  • His example is a “reported attack page”… so I could look for other examples, but my questions will be – does the library’s mobile website or app facilitate participation? (which is a different question than whether libraries facilitate participation by taking advantage of the proliferation and the lifestyle of people with mobile/smart phones & tablets?)

Feedback

  • ” Dedicate a section on your site to posting user feedback along with the library’s official response.” [I have always believed this would be a good idea, but Brian’s example only offers answers to “Frequently asked questions” and a variety of forms for different kinds of questions. David Lee King once spoke about TSCPL’s engagement with community through blogs, which is not really the same thing.  Any examples? ]

Redundancy

  • Dan Brown calls this the principle of multiple pathways.  Not expecting website users to all use the same links.  [In participatory service terms this would mean sharing buttons on every page anyone might want to share–anything else?]

Analytics

  •  No argument they’re vital in general. And equally for evaluating efforts to become a ‘participatory library’.  Combine analytics with A/B testing perhaps to find the best place for social media buttons (or more participatory invitations/displays if I ever find any)]
  • While I’m here… oh, I might have mentioned in my posts on delicious how it can be difficult (?impossible?) to detect usage of embedded content.

Easy Way To Ask for Help

  • Drat I saw a great example of this recently and didn’t screenshot it.  ? partici… – ah not really in the public-social context. Would there be a way to make it easy for happy helpees “Like”/tweet their content with help received?  I’d tweet it.

Enough note-taking and thinking for the night

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands!

If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands by Patricia van Casteren (2008). CC: BY-NC-ND/2.0 at Flickr

Readings:

King, D. (2011, September 30). Creating customer experience: On the web, in the library, in the community. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/davidleeking/creating-customer-experience-on-the-web-in-the-library-in-the-community-9493673
Mathews, B. (2009). Web design matters. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6634712.html?industryid=47126

I feel proud :-)

cue game winning moments

… over the mountain …

Tonight, despite the lingering dizziness from Saturday’s pain medication…

… through the woods …

CSS? Div this? ID that? sweep it all aside, I go back and wrestle with html.

… face to the sun …

I worked out how to line up the social media icons in the text widget in my sidebar, without messing (yet) with Child Themes.
(Social media icons are courtesy of the Responsive Theme where they normally, and still do, appear in the footer)

At least, I thought it was an achievement (turning a vertical ul into a horizontal one); but maybe I could simply have placed them there side by side, considering I was handcoding anyway? And yes that means that if/when I add others as they become available I will need to hand-alter the widget 🙂

In any case, I achieved what I wanted 🙂

Not only that, but I’ve (hopefully, all going well,) puzzled my way through the details of the WP to Twitter plugin so that I can autopost this blog to my secondary Twitter account. This involved setting up a Twitter developer account and finding my bit.ly API. I’d have gone for su.pr because it has one less character but already had a bit.ly account of which I had not yet made full use.

cue game winning moments
As proud as when I achieved status of “Supreme Chief of all Hospitals” in the game Theme Hospital.

I could tie this in to the whole INF2506 learning thing, by associating it with the discussions hither and yon about tying social media accounts together or the value of coding skills … but honestly, I learned that before this subject too. And right now feels too glorious to go chasing up references.

http://beyondthequote.com/helen-keller-quotes.html

Motivational Helen Keller Quotes via kwout

Oh my literary friends …

Please, shower me
with better quotations
to express the
pride and joy
a being feels after
plowing through
problems
to exhult in
deserved glory
of tiny achievements.