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Internet Librarian 2013 – Responsive Web Design

Ben Bizzle, assisted last-minute by Jeff Wisniewski

Ben wins for the best slide presentation title so far: Please Web Responsibly.

Ben came to his library, the Craighead County Jonesboro Library, several years ago and the website was pretty friggin’ bad.  Spinning GIFs, different fonts, bad layout, etc.  They started working on a new design for the website immediately – about 4 years ago it launched.  The focus was on simplicity—making decisions easy for users.  The website was designed in Drupal and the mobile site was designed in WordPress.  The mobile site had access to a limited subset of the main website’s information, the calendar, EBSCO databases, staff picks, etc.

They recently launched a new main website that is completely responsive.  They tried to design with the F-pattern in mind.  Their mobile site today has the same content as the main website.  You have to make decisions, though, for mobile about what to turn off, reorder, and prioritize.

Ben emphasized that libraries should have mobile sites, not apps.  Libraries are portals to a whole bunch of resources—apps are self-contained.  A huge benefit of responsive web design: every change you make to your website is reflected in every single user’s interaction with your site, no matter the device.  If you’re using an app for your mobile content, users would have to update their app before they’d see the new content/changes.

The front end of your website has to be fully responsive, clean, elegant, simple, and function as a true information and entertainment portal.  A lot of companies promote themselves backward.  Think of what we do as a series of concentric circles, starting on the outside with the What, then the How, and the very smallest circle in the center is the Why.  Many organizations start from the outside and work their way in.  You should instead start with the Why, and work your way out.

When someone goes to your website and has a bad experience and sees outdated design, they make a judgment about you and your services.   We’re competing with companies, not just libraries.  Is our site competitive with Amazon or iTunes?  If not, fix that.

Responsive ROI for their website – 4 year life cycle, 185,000 visits per year, $18,000 cost, which works out to only $0.025 per visit.  Yay for numbers!

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