It’s no secret that every library needs a great website. In the process of working with dozens of library executives and boards, however, we have discovered that there isn’t a great deal of understanding about what makes a library’s web presence better than average. Today’s post is all about filling that knowledge gap.
It goes without saying that much will depend on your individual library, needs, budget, and challenges. Still, here are seven features we think nearly every public library website needs to incorporate…
#1 An Expandable Design Scheme
The library you have today is not necessarily the library you’ll have in a few years. So, unless you plan on investing in a new web presence every few years (which would be tedious and not recommended), you need a content management system that allows you to keep your library website up to date from one month and year to the next.
#2 Mobile Compatibility
Libraries, like businesses, universities, and government agencies, are discovering that the majority of their web visits are coming from mobile devices. That trend is likely to continue for years to come. Knowing that, you want your web design – along with its associated search and functionality features – to be compatible with all kinds of phones and tablets.
#3 Strong Website Hosting
Most libraries see periods of increased web activity at regular intervals (for example, during the periods when students are studying for finals). To make sure your library website can handle that kind of rush you’ll want good web hosting that also includes secure connections, automatic backups, online security checks, and other features.
#4 Good Navigation and Search
One unique feature of library websites is that they tend to feature lots of information – just like the libraries themselves. Because it can be frustrating for visitors to dig through endless pages and resources, good search and navigation functions are integral to the design and development process. You want visitors to be able to locate the data or tool they need as quickly as possible.
#5 New Media and Resources
Speaking of online information, not all of it has to be written. In some situations it might make sense to host video libraries, microfilm collections, photographs, and other sorts of easily shared resources directly on a library website. That can make them more accessible to the community at large and even draw in visits from users across the globe.
#6 A Catalog and Inventory System
For the resources that are actually kept within the library itself, an integrated catalog and inventory system can be incredibly handy. Using these tools, you can show visitors what items you have available at the moment (as well as whether they can be borrowed or when they are due to be returned). That saves time for your staff and the community you serve.
#7 General Information Pages (with Updates)
If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that all information is temporary and fluid. By having continually updated pages with hours, locations, and policies (as examples), you make it easy to communicate the latest information to the public. Then they can figure out how best to utilize your library without having to visit in person or call your staff on the phone.
Work with the Library Web Design and UX Experts
Designing a website for a public library, complete with a focus on a positive user experience, isn’t an easy task. Luckily, the team at Weblinx is here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and let us show you how we walk our library clients smoothly from the initial planning stages of a new website to the launch of the finished product.
It only takes a moment to reach out to our team of experienced designers and developers. And, it might be the one step that transforms your library forever.