What are they doing right?

What are they doing right? a lot.

1. Use the website as a tool to feature resources and not visually overload the user.

2. Use purposeful design cues to help user navigate the site and not force the user to decipher what is important on the homepage.

3. Use the homepage as a starting point and do not try to put everything on the homepage.

4. Use descriptive bold headings to focus your attention and -not library-ese. Actually, this sums up library-ese.

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10 thoughts on “What are they doing right?”

  1. Yes…less is much more effective than a cluttered page. Decades of research telles us that visual communication is effective when we are able to direct the audience to the really important stuff. Of course we need to really decide what is the “really important stuff” for users.

  2. I disagree. It’s nice for a library homepage, no doubt, but it certainly has some room for improvement.

    1. 3 columns? The actual page is a lot “busier” than the picture leads you to believe.

    2. The RSS badge at the top FlAsHeS through recent posts – incredibly annoying. Users have universally hated flashing things since the dawn of the internet. Besides, the page doesn’t include the head link tag required to make the convenient browser-based subscribe.

    3. The code’s a disaster. Two style sections plus the requisite external file, and tons of scripts for what appears to be static content (Is there coldfusion doing something I don’t see as well?). Also, the layout is accomplished using tables — but tables are for tabular data, not layout.

    4. After all the careful styling and theming, the footer truly clashes with the rest of the page.

    5. Too much reliance on images, especially images that replace text. The alt attribute for the text images is actually different from the text represented! Also, spacer gifs for layout are a HUGE no-no.

    6. http://www.alistapart.com/articles/homepagegoals/ – this is wisdom for the ages.

    Sorry if that was brutal — I was just trying to be honest and helpful.

  3. Quite alright to disagree and not too harsh Brad. The site is not perfect.

    Maybe the background code doesn’t fit stringent web standards but I focused on what the page did right visually. Sure, some pieces still need work. RSS? A mere tiny fraction of web users barely even know about this let alone how to use it to their advantage. So I agree -why bother with RSS?

    While there’s always room for improvement, the site’s homepage provides clear headings and is refreshing from what a library homepage typically thinks is important. The 4 differences I noted are worth focusing as what is right with the site.

    Stay tuned for more on this post in the coming weeks as I think you’ve got a great eye for technical implementation of website and would love to hear more of your thoughts.

  4. Here is what I like: the font, the colors, the attempt at a visual, pretty site. I do agree with Brad on certain points. It’s almost more cluttered because of the three column action they have going on. However I’m a picture fan! And I I find the pics kind of nice…just oddly placed. Like the footer..it’s just weird.

  5. Hi, it is my website. Thanks for the comments. I strived to make a nice website that would be somewhat intuitive. I am not a trained website maker, just a librarian with Dreamweaver.

    As for the footer, we like it :( It changes each semester and highlights a different library project. This one one leads to my “Preserving our Recollections” streaming media project. Don’t go there unless you like Flash and ColdFusion.

    I agree with the three column issue, but it works for us. Better than the “long list” web design so many libraries use. This was a compromise with for people here who want EVERYTHING on the front page. This is the 4th website I have done for MCC and I try to get all of the index page to appear in a standard screen display with no scrolling.

    Tables: agree, but didn’t want to do CSS layout, perhaps with the next one

    RSS: I used it here because I wanted to use the FeedBurner blog feed here and other places. The RSS is actually secondary.

    Flash: agree about flash-ing being annoying, but it works in this context. It is small and not too obtrusive. I want it to get attention and for students to actually look at it, since we post important news for them.

    Agree about the code, it is abysmally messy, but there is no ColdFusion used, although I am a CF programmer. All of the scripts are JS and needed. I purposely make the site look static, since it is a portal and I wanted it to have a consistent look.

  6. Lisa – have fun. I would recommend that you make one change to the CSS – specifting a background color of white (#ffffff). Some browsers, including my primary one, use gray as a default background, which makde the MCC site look quite funky. :)
    -Edward

  7. Okay, so I felt a little misunderstood after commenting, so I just went ahead and made a quick mockup of the direction I’d go with the site.

    http://hawidu.com/mcc/

    It’s just a quick build, and I haven’t had a chance to test it beyond IE7 — so it might look entirely different on your computer than I intended.

    If you’d like any justifications for the page, I’d be happy to give you my take.

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