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Over the last year, many libraries have seen an exponential increase in the number of online visitors they receive. Due to Covid restrictions and the inability of many patrons to visit in person, libraries have had to explore new ways to offer their services. Many have begun to embrace this as an opportunity to present their resources as a digital experience. 

Along with this increased web traffic, however, it is important for libraries to ensure that their website is both easily accessible and user-friendly. Greg Landgraf describes this in his article for American Libraries Magazine entitled, “How User-Friendly Is Your Website? Usability lessons for libraries in a remote world”.

Landgraf explains that usability is a very important factor to consider when designing your website, because as users become more accustomed to doing things online, they are looking for simplicity and ease, and are less likely to stay on a website that cannot be navigated intuitively.

He also notes that even as libraries begin to re-open, we shouldn't be surprised when many patrons still prefer to visit the website rather than visit the library in person, because of how much more efficient it is for them. Because of this, it is crucial to understand the types of things you should be considering when creating or redesigning your website.

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A major point to note is that a number of online visitors will opt to access the site from their mobile phones, which means websites should be responsive in order to ensure someone accessing the site from any of their devices can easily navigate it. Sometimes though a website may look good in a desktop browser, the layout differs when looking at it on a mobile screen. A responsive website will automatically adjust to fit the screen of the user, which means patrons will see your site exactly the way that you want them to.

Equally as important, is making sure that your website is accessible to those with disabilities and impairments, meaning things like small text and moving or flashing pictures are ill-advised. Landgraf mentions the use of browser extensions to aid in finding anything on your website that may not be accessible to all visitors.

Additionally, you’ll want to take into account the language that you use, and be sure patrons will be able to understand the message you are trying to get across. For this reason, it is important to consider the perspective of the various different demographics represented by your community, in order to ensure that the content is easily digestible by anyone who might come across it. 

When your website is user-friendly, it enhances the experience of your patrons and leads to more frequent usage of your online resources. As libraries begin to embrace their online experiences more and more, they are able to reach a wider audience and provide resources and knowledge to patrons at any time and from anywhere, which, in turn, increases the value of the library's role in its community.

 

You can access the full article here.

 

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Niche Academy helps libraries create a better online experience by providing tutorials and other videos to be seamlessly embedded into your own website, ensuring patrons aren’t directed away from the site or distracted by unnecessary ads and suggested content.

Learn more at https://www.nicheacademy.com/public-libraries.

Jared Oates

Jared comes to Niche Academy with a love for teaching and learning. He's a self-taught software engineer and graduated from college with two teaching-emphasis degrees. He finds endless fascination in the ways that new technology changes lives and reshapes the world around him.

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