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Planning for how to share announcements should be done BEFORE it's needed. Here are a few tips on this process.
There are two types of announcements:
First, an emergency situation such as COVID-19.
Second, a non-emergency situation such as a database outage.
Make sure to treat each type of announcement differently. It can be a hard balance to know how much to alert users so communication is clear without overwhelming them with alerts.
First, consider where to locate your announcement information. Will it go at the top, bottom, or side of your website? How will this affect existing functionality?
Next, consider the size of your information. Ideally, you want to grab the user's eye but leave the bulk of your website intact.
Consider font, color and style for the information.
Finally, have a clear process in place to determine which type of announcement this is.
Here are a few great examples from schools who are sharing COVID information on their websites.
DePauw University has done an excellent job of focusing your attention on what they have to offer--people. They clearly want you to reach out to them regardless of your needs. They have also positioned this banner below the most commonly needed resources so as to not interfere with functionality.
Franklin College has made good use of color to highlight their response to COVID-19. Their link is clearly visible, accessible, and does not change the functionality of their website.
Goshen College's website gives you clearly stated information you would need before visiting the building. They've used color to draw your eye to the information and left their website functionality intact.
The University of Washington has this great status grid letting folks know what is available and what is not.
Here are a few examples of how NOT to provide COVID information on your website.
Altadena Libraries clearly have an excellent graphic designer on staff. This page is visually beautiful. However, visitors to this page have lost almost all functionality specific to the library. The primary purpose of a library website is generally not to provide information about COVID-19 already available from the county. This might be an acceptable design if the information was library specific but it is not in this particular case.
The Arcadia Public Library has exactly the opposite problem from the Altadena Libraries. On the first screen of their homepage, their COVID-19 information is invisible until you scroll down.
Once you scroll down to view the COVID-19 information, the problems continue, as this text is difficult to read.
Need to close the library temporarily? Here's a great example of an announcement for this purpose from Earlham
Here are a few great examples from PALNI schools of ways to share non-emergency announcements.
Both Manchester and Wabash have rotating announcement boxes on their websites. These graphical eye-catching scrolling sections of the website are a great way to let users know what's new and changing.
Alternatively, Thousand Oaks Library has also chosen to make their announcements rotate, but as full screen images with a catalog box in the middle. This causes your eye to have no idea where to go, so the image has scrolled away before you have time to read or process it. While this image is fun and could be used elsewhere, it is a failure as a rotating image.