Skip to main content

Website Design Obsolescence

Website designs tend to become obsolete within a few years.  A website created, say, in 1996 (when I first started making them) was largely static content and a few graphics in basic HTML.  By the year 2000, such a website was outmoded, with the advancement of Javascript and more sophisticated web-based encoding.  Increased bandwidth with faster modems and broadband devices enabled more animation and graphic-laden, interactive content.  The faster technologies improve, the quicker websites become outdated.

A quick review of my library's website history demonstrates this trend.  When I began working at Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library (MPL) in September 2007, we had a basic HTML website filled with text (some hyperlinked, some static) and still images.  It was, frankly, plain and disengaging.  In 2008, a new website was launched that introduced more hyperlinking and limited interactive content.  It was, honestly, quirky and difficult to navigate.  It was replaced in 2012 by a much-improved, WordPress-based, interactive website, incorporating videos, graphic-hyperlinking, animations, and other Javascript features.  (This is our current website, for which I serve as webmaster.)

All of these MPL websites have one common quality:  They were designed primarily to be viewed using traditional computers (desktops and laptops).  Due to cost considerations, it was not until 2016 that MPL introduced MPL2GO, a mobile app that could convert its website to be optimally viewed using mobile, handheld devices.  Our promo trailers elaborate.


MPL2GO Mobile App Promo Trailer,
by Mooresville Public Library

Our New Mobile App, Featuring Cauli Le Chat
(Promo Trailer by MPL)

Viewing MPL's website using the mobile app eliminates sidebar features to focus upon the central content (i.e., the "main" text columns of a given web page).  To fully interact with the website, one still needs to use a desktop or laptop computer to view it.  Since patrons increasingly utilize mobile, handheld devices exclusively to access the internet, this design obsolescence demands a website upgrade.  Fortunately, MPL will be evaluating the cost of updating its website later this year (2017) when it will probably opt for a primary interface crafted for mobile devices.  Many libraries have already gone in this direction.

One of the drawbacks to mobile device-focused website design is that considerable content must be pruned to streamline the website so that mobile device users may conveniently navigate its menu options.  But less is more in our speed-addicted society, where attention spans grow shorter and substance thinner.  If libraries are to remain relevant online, their websites must move with the times.

It has been argued that library websites are totally obsolete and that libraries should concentrate upon the "major" social media (Facebook and Twitter, presumably) to present their online content.  That view is premature.  Websites can still serve library patrons well for the foreseeable future.  They afford often unique, highly specialized content that is prized among interested individuals.  Consider two of MPL's most popular web pages (local history and famous hometown folks).  You won't find such content anywhere else, at least as compact and organized.  (You could ferret it out from our Indiana Room blog, but that would be time-consuming.)

Still, website upgrades should be done every few years (perhaps five years is a good rule-of thumb--Hey, it worked for the original Star Trek Enterprise's "five-year mission"), unless this would be cost-prohibitive.  An updated website may well be worth the expense, though. After all, libraries want to serve patrons effectively, and a website can only accomplish that if people are visiting it.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

"Library Spokescritters" Social Media Success Stories

Previously, we discussed how libraries could use "spokescritters" (i.e., resident animals) to promote their services and collections.  Many of these "spokescritters" have taken to social media as their primary promotional vehicles.  How successful have they been?
Consider Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library's feline roving reporter, Cauli Le Chat.  Her blog, Cat's Eye View @ MPL, has been viewed extensively--as of right now, it has 475,341 viewings.  We saw this graphic from yesterday's blog posting:
Total Blog Viewings (as of February 24, 2018) Cat's Eye View @ MPL
Mooresville Public Library (MPL) serves Brown Township in Morgan County, Indiana, which has a population under 15,000.  Furthermore, Cauli Le Chat officially "retired" as roving reporter early last year, because she doesn't get out as much as she used to (she once lived down the street and would hangout outside the library--hence her "roving reporter" status), and al…

Book Challenges Due to Social Media Exposure

I work at Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library, and we occasionally receive challenges to items in our collections (usually books) that some patrons consider offensive, unfair, or contrary to their particular religious or value system.  Most of these challenges come verbally from irate patrons complaining to the circulation desk staff.  The library provides a written form in which patrons may explain their objections to specific items and their reasons, but, not surprisingly, many people don't want to commit their attacks to writing.  It's much easier to simply bellow at library staff and demand that the "undesirable" materials be removed "immediately."
We insist that the form be completed before an independent committee will review any complaints.  When patrons fill-out the form, they often cannot identify passages or page numbers upon which the offending words or ideas were presented.  That, of course, if because many people who challenge books and wish to…

Using Video to Promote ALA Banned Books Week

When promoting ALA Banned BooksWeek (BBW), most librarians have probably turned to the ol' reliable book display, like so:

Click images to enlarge

Book displays are great.  They centralize selected items, focus patrons' attention on a particular topic or theme, and they're relatively easy and inexpensive to produce.  But they're just so, well, static.  Stuff just sits there until patrons come along.
Another popular static medium we use to promote BBW is the customized book mark.

These take a bit more work but are fine as promotional tools, as far as they go.
How about something more, say, techno-savvy?


2018 Banned Books Week Promo Trailer by Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library

2016 Banned Books Week Promo Trailer by Mooresville (Indiana) Public Library

Since 2010 my library has used videos to promote BBW.  There are the promo trailer variety (above) that help stimulate interest, and these are reasonably effective (some of ours have been viewed thousands of times).  Book trailer…