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Transformative Website Style Guide: Overview

This guide offers practical advice on creating a transformative library website.

Need Help?

PALNI staff are here to help you turn your website into a fantastic transformative site! Ruth Szpunar is available for consulting assistance on any library website. Just email her to get started!

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About

Private Academic Library Network of Indiana logo

This guide was created by a task force of PALNI staff. 

Task Force Members:
Eric Bradley | Goshen College / PALNI
Noah Brubaker | PALNI
Joelle Orem | PALNI
Ruth Szpunar | PALNI

Copyright Notice

PALNI's Transformative Website Style Guide LibGuide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. PALNI’s logos and branding template are not covered by this license, and all rights to such material are reserved.

Vision

Today, the library website is the primary, and perhaps only, service point for users. Successful sites will move far beyond access to the collection to rely upon creating a personal connection, offering the most complete set of services online as possible, and maintaining close alignment to mission and institutional priorities.

 
What should a library website look like today?
How can they transform to meet the needs of their constituents? 
How can they create engagement for the user and further teaching and learning on the virtual campus? 
This guide addresses these ideas and questions in a variety of ways and areas.

Overarching Questions

Every library building was developed by a trained architect, but many library websites are not.
On top of this, most of us are not in a position to hire a professional website designer. However, there are standard steps all of us can take to ensure our library website serves the needs of our community in the same fashion as our library building.
In evaluating and redesigning a website consider the following:
  • Background information: Who is this website for? What are their needs? Who needs to be involved with the development of the website? Who do we need approval and/or blessing from in developing this website?
  • Design practices: What are the standard website design practices? Content layout practices? How do I build my website using LibGuides or other content management systems? What standards are in place to make my website accessible to all users? How do I develop my site to accommodate emergency situations?
  • Integration with other services: How does my website integrate with other institutional web platforms?
  • Assessment: How do I track that my website is fulfilling its purpose?

Quick Wins for your Website

Here are some pieces of your website that can be addressed in one hour or less!
Identify your users
  • Start by naming your users: the students, faculty, staff, and guests of your institution. Consider their unique attributes and needs. Look at existing personas and templates as a guidepost in helping consider how your site meets (or doesn't) the needs of your users.
Fix fonts and colors
  • Take away the yuk factor! Evaluating your website's current fonts and colors and replacing with recommended standards will add appeal to your website, and also help visually impaired students.
Replace low quality images
  • Replace those pixelated, illegally copied images with high resolution free images from websites such as Unsplash.
Run your site through a accessibility test
  • Discover what you don't know about your website by running it through a online accessibility evaluation tool. Their recommended changes will be a boost to all users of your website.
Identify your Call to Action, make it clear
  • Every great website has a call to action (CTA), what is yours? Develop a effective CTA for your user community.
Integrate with your LMS
  • Most students are in your institution's Learning Management System at the beginning of their research projects; are you there to welcome and assist them? There are numerous ways your LMS administrator can easily integrate your website and services.
Set up Google Analytics
  • Having usage data to analyze is extremely helpful, but first you have to set it up. Google Analytics is a free reporting tool that can be integrated into any website.