Best Practices for Public Library Website Design

You are a librarian, not a web developer, but you can have a library website that fulfills the needs of patrons and library staff. If you keep it things simple and don’t take on more than you can administer, and concentrate on what you know and do well it will be a piece of cake.

Building a great and user friendly website for a public library, you need to look at it from two perspectives. First, you will need to look at it from a librarian’s point of view.

What will your patrons need, and how can you best service their needs? This is the easy part as it comes with the profession. So coming up with that info should be a fairly easy task.

Second, you need to look at it like web designer as someone who has an eyed for design and knows what the users looks for in a website. Since most librarians are not trained as a web designer, that could be a daunting task and be a complete waste of time.

Gallery of great public library websites:

Best thing is to focus on what you know and what you do best, and spend as little time on what you don’t know as possible. Since you are trained and experienced in managing a library, that’s where you should be focusing your professional energy.

Think of your website as an extension of your technology or media center — you weren’t the one who build that yourself, right? Of course not, because you’re not a constriction worker! The same goes for a website.

What few librarians understand is that building a great, usable, easy to use, accessible, attractive public library website that meets the needs of patrons and staff is every bit as difficult and as complicated as designing a good building that meets the needs of everyone. If people built buildings the way they build websites, there would be too many rooms with no doors, rooms that no one would use, and hallways that didn’t lead anywhere; you wouldn’t be able to tell what a room was for or even whether the door opened to the inside or the outside of the building until you opened it; and the roof would leak every time it rained!

The good news is, you can hire a web design professional to build and maintain your website and do it right the first time.

They key is that you don’t need a complicated website because public libraries are mostly informational so something very simple will probably meet your needs. Most libraries use Dreamweaver to edit their websites but the use of content management systems has made it so easy that you don’t have to do the technical work yourself, but rather mange all content online and is as easy as using Microsoft word.

If you have any questions about designing a library website feel free to contact us.