David Lee King shares his digital branch’s style guide. A little long, but all recommendations are simple, clearly explained and sensible. Oh look, they spell email just like normal people do, yay! Style guides do more than just help you be consistent, they also set a tone for best practices for people who don’t know as much about the online environment as others. Nice job, David.
I have to say I had no idea when I wrote my post the other day that the redesigned ALA.org was going live this week. It looks pretty good, with my minor nitpick being the main page title says “ALA | ALA | Home” in my browser bookmarks which seems a little weird (titles seem borked sitewide actually). Was sort of hoping to see a “Hey it’s live!” page link with info about the transition but honestly, it’s so darned nice looking and normal looking, that seems like a minor quibble. What do you think?
Also: if you see something that is not just not to your tastes but actually broken, please be part of the solution and take the time to email the web team and let them know what happened. Every new site launch comes with a bunch of unexpected little glitches, let’s help ALA fix theirs.
The review process comprises two stages. First, you’ll step through ten web pages that show and describe the proposed new graphic (visual) design of the ALA site. Each of these pages presents a type of page in the design. Each has a textual description (summary or detailed) of the page type at the top, and provides below it a screen shot of a sample page of that type.
Many people have worked hard on ALA’s I Love Libraries website. I know this because I was (in a small way) one of them.The site was advertised in the State of America’s Libraries published by ALA in April but didn’t go live until this week, just in time for Annual. In the intervening time we got what can only be described as a sub-par “coming soon” page which is really amazing to me considering that the URL had already been widely distributed.
I don’t see much need to pick apart the website page by page, but I do have some critiques that I hope will be illustrative or helpful.
1. Who didn’t learn anything about long URLs? ALA didn’t. There is no reason in 2007 to have that much extra junk in a URL.
2. In 2007, a “find your library” page should not go to a list of links of how you can find your library. It should go to a search box or a map.
3. Don’t hide your blog. Don’t bury new content at the bottom of your main page.
4. Things professional websites have that this one doesn’t: favicons, copyright statements in the footer or on the legal page not up top looking defensive, an overall design sensibility, content (not just links to content), an about us page with the names of real people on it, valid markup, alt text for images, accessible coding,
valid security certificates, copyright statements that word wrap appropriately.
5. The rules for adding content to the Ilovelibraries.org Flickr group exclude humans and allow only institutions. Which 2.0 guideline does this violate? I asked to join. I never even heard back from the group moderator. Why is this restriction necessary?
In short, this is a 1.0 site that is pretending to be a 2.0 site and is a perfect example of how all the blogging tools in the world won’t make your organization responsive and interactive if your corporate culture is restrictive and controlling. Put another way, I’ve been clicking around this site for half an hour and I don’t even know what it’s trying to do. It’s all over the place. Is it to raise money for ALA and libraries in various ways? Is it a way to ask questions and get information about libraries? Is it a way to share content and/or my love of libraries with other people? Is it a way to push ALA content at more than the usual suspects? Is it a way to make ALA seem hipper and more “with it”? The about this site page is unrevealing: “Simply put, you love libraries, and we hope this Web site will keep it that way!” Huh.
I feel like if we could understand why ALA thinks ilovelibraries.org is a good, well-designed website for achieving their goals, we might understand more about why people have a hard time with technology and why there is such a digital divide in librarianship, much less among the public at large. For now it remains a bit of a mystery, at least to me.
No it’s not The Onion, it’s true. “You may be aware that we are currently conducting a usability assessment of our ALA website.”