Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Let's talk about websites

Specifically college library websites. What do you like about the Olin Library's website and what do you not like? Are there sites out there that you really like? Not because of the content of the site or the library, but because of how you navigate through the site, what you can do at the site, and the look and feel of the site?

Here are a few that I think are worth looking at, for either good or ill.

Middlebury College. I like the cool photos, the white space, and the san serif script (I am a sucker for san serif.) I really like the integration of IT and the library, but that is a topic for a different post. I like the navigation route thingy (I forget the technical term) that shows you what route you took to get here and enables you to get home or to any intermediate page easily. I like the quick links on the right. But the whole page has too many links. It is overwhelming.

Oberlin College. This is a sorry excuse for a website. Overstuffed with a weird mixture of services etc. and buttons with mixed fonts on the left. But hold on, what is this? A new and very definitely improved website. Changing images, the cool news blog, san serif and white space (of course), the integration of the catalog into the website, the quick links drop down menu. Perhaps still too many links (news and newspapers? Dictionaries? Do they really belong on the opening page?) I also had to scroll down to see the whole page, but overall, a huge improvement.

Smith College. It is fussy on the left hand side, but I like the menus that appear when your mouse floats over the, mercifully few, choices in the middle of the page.

Gustavus Adolphus College. I don't like the color scheme, but I rather like the Mondrianesque arrangement and the spare three column menu arrangement. Another OPAC search feature integrated into the home page, I like that.

Bowdoin College. Notice how it is integrated into the College home page via the top frame. The tabs in the middle are an interesting solution to the volume of information libraries have to convey. As well as my preferred elements that I have talked to death earlier in this list, I like the way your eyes are drawn to the center of the page where the real business links of the library are laid out.

Look, there are lots more. None are perfect. I don't think any college library website can fully satisfy all the needs of its constituents, but some do a better job than others. Which ones would you recommend? For even more fun, tell me which ones are truly appalling and why.


Anonymous said...

I like the "Services for Faculty" page on the Smith College site. I think something like this would be helpful to Rolins faculty members.
D. Moore

Yvonne said...

On our web page, I think the basis impression is attractive but NOT user-friendly. If you try to get to a database, once you figure out why you would want to, you have to hassle with the OneLog stuff. I don't understand why we can't have direct access on campus and a separate screen to deal with the off-campus hassles!!! It's a real pain.
Other colleges - your Middlebury link went to the college, not the library and I couldn't find the library. After using the Search function to find the library, I got a web page saying it was being worked on. Well. excuuuuse me, even I havne't messed up the library web page enough to totally take it offline! Not impressed.
Smith - blah
Oberlin - colors make me gag!
Gustavus Alophus very discreet, makes me want to be quieter immediately, but nice looking.
But the BEST was BOWDOIN!!
I LOVE that the library is the first link under "Top Sites" on the main Bowdoin page!! Yes!!
And once you are at the library, it is very usefully laid out, with lots of instruction and links to classes! I am impressed!

Jonathan Miller said...

The comment about Middlebury is interesting. They are obviously updating their page. It was different yesterday evening, honest!

Yvonne Jones said...

I find the Brigham Young University library website to be a nice model. It is clean looking and uses tabs very well. The main menu starts with Find Articles which is the single most frequent function for the students and the links given there are great! It looks clear, lean, and useful!
By contrast, Clarkson University library website is way too colorful, spends too much time talking about itself and not enough actually helping students.

Naomi Harrison said...

Webster University has a very simple, functional web site. It takes only four clicks to get to where one want to search. I also like the information about databases upfront allowing one to look broadly at databses available that might be useful for your research. You can also do multi- databases searching at one time. They also have a survey at the top of the page. Take a look at the survey for possible ideas. Rollins Institutional Research Department can help in developing a survey of this nature.

Anonymous said...

I think Middlebury is a very nice website. It has a nice layout and is easy to use. Olin's website, unfortunately, is difficult to navigate, unappealing to the eye and the databases are not friendly to Macs.

Dani Picard said...

The Bowdoin College one is definitely the best of those you listed. I also like the functionality of the University of Rochester's (NY). Both have the search box on the first page which saves time, has quick links to databases (which is a necessity!), and fast links to library hours.

They have sleak format and have library news on the side - which can highlight this blog.

Jonathan Miller said...

Here is the URL for Rochester's website that Dani mentions above.

Jonathan Miller said...

OK, so I forgot the URL!

Jonathan Miller said...

Yvonne asked me to post this.

"Sonoma State University -
Go Sonoma!

D. Yvonne Jones, PhD, MLS
Olin Library, Rollins College
1000 Holt Avenue - 2744
Winter Park, FL 32789-4499
(407) 646-2295 FAX (407) 646-1515