At the very heart of design lies function, a function that the website, software, tool, book, or even a piece of furniture is expected to perform.
And when designing a website to accomplish a specific function, it is important to consider who will be using it and what they intend to do with it.
This edition of LibGuides Tips & Tricks focuses on the most important aspect of functional design - your audience.
In our September 2015 newsletter, we mentioned the importance of creating targeted, personalized LibGuides. Creating personalized LibGuides fosters feelings of community and connection between your patrons and the Library. The examples we outlined specifically reference course or assignment-specific guides, author readings, or featuring local artists.
Several of this year's SpringyCamp conference presentations were focused on social justice, which inspired us to provide this tip: go beyond the examples we initially shared and explore social issues in your community. For example, issues that concern diversity, injustice, inclusion, privilege, and equality.
Creating LibGuides addressing social justice issues creates another opportunity for you to connect with your community. As Rachel Lockman states, "Let’s start a social justice revolution through our everyday work as academic librarians. Let’s harness microactivism in a library context—in our reference interactions with patrons, in our selection of materials, in our curricula, in our cataloging practices—in every area of our days on the job." (College & Research Library News, April 2015)
A big aspect of functional design focuses on visual elements. Human beings are naturally drawn to thing we find pretty... this is the aesthetic value of design.
Adding impactful visuals captivates users, draws them in, and appeals to their sense of sight. However, visuals shouldn't be used just for the sake of 'adding something pretty.' Successful use of images will not detract from the function of your LibGuide. Instead, it enhances function by engaging users and building interest (and trust!) in your brand.
A great way to add visuals, and promote your library content and resources, is through the new Gallery Box options.
With the new Gallery Box options, create visual slideshows showcasing:
We've also added a bunch of new settings to provide a creative way to tailor each Gallery Box to that LibGuides' function and purpose.
Showcase Upcoming LibCal Events
1 Row / 2 Slides Per Row
Two-row Grid, Auto-Play ON, No Captions, “Fade” Transition
Horizontal Books Carousel, Auto-play OFF, No Captions, Advance 6 at a Time
A fiercely important feature of functional web design is the formatting of your LibGuides URL. A properly-named and structured friendly URL has significant implications on user expectations.
Your LibGuides systems comes with some default boilerplate language. This makes it much easier, and faster, to use LibGuides as a turnkey software solution because you don't have to customize every single label.
But, some of our default language might not work for your audience.
Are librarians referred to as authors? Or as information specialists?
Are LibGuides actually called LibGuides? Or do you call them InfoGuides? Or perhaps Pathfinders?
You don't have to change the language of your audience to fit LibGuides. Instead, change your LibGuides language to fit your audience's needs.
System-Wide Language Customizations:
Group Language Customizations: (LibGuides CMS Only)
Celebrate fun holidays, play an April's Fool Prank, or just have fun with your language customizations. These might be way more fun for you than your users. Remember, all work and no play makes librarians go cray cray.
In honor of Sir Terry Pratchett, make use of the made-up words and a language full of wizards, witches, tyrants, guides, and of course, the Luggage.
Eway ewknay ou’dyay ovelay isthay optionway!
We don’t want to live in a world where Princess Bride isn’t a language option. So put down the Iocane Powder, pardon us while we shout this a little louder, and this time we really mean it, any one got a peanut?
To better inform your language customizations and your guide creation, use your audience's actual LibGuides search terms in your content creation. (Navigate to Statistics > Searches to see what users search for.)
Plus, if you've always wanted to perform usability testing but lacked time, budget, or support - this type of data-mining is informal usability testing.
This type of low-key, "in the trenches," guerilla testing can provide invaluable and ongoing feedback. A benefit for 'agile' content creation!