We were very fortunate to be trusted with redesigning the Ellsworth Public Library’s website.
Like many of the libraries in Down East Maine, the Ellsworth Public Library (EPL) was still running a basic HTML site. When it was built years ago, it was top of the line.
Since the site was built, not only has the library changed, but its patrons have changed too. The typical library patron five years ago didn’t even have a home computer, and now the average visitor to the EPL not only has a computer, but a smartphone, tablet, and or eReader as well. Serving these customers with an old website platform was becoming increasingly difficult.
The library staff really wanted to be involved with their new site so they could easily add current information, and also they wanted their new website to represent the ever changing and growing community they serve.
The old website had about ten static pages, so in that way, it was fairly easy to navigate. But there were some limitations. For example, some pages didn’t provide navigation so you had to use your browser’s back button to find the menu again. Email addresses to library staff were visible on the staff page, inviting spam. And most importantly, it required a knowledge of HTML for any new information to be posted there. Despite these frustrations, the library staff felt that the overall look of the site well represented the library, and they wanted to stay close to the theme.
To stay with the same feel with the website update, a similar color palette was chosen to provide the consistent look:
While the old website was static, the home page of the new site offers four areas for the visitor to interact:
- Slideshow of images helping users navigate to resources, see event information, and view important content that the library continually changes.
- News- Updates of library news including upcoming events and new resources
- Library Resources- Links to some of the library’s most popular offerings
- Recent Events- Displaying participation and photographs from past events
Menus and Sidebars
While the main navigation menu stays regardless of location in site, the sidebars reflect the area of the library the page represents. For example, if you are looking at the Kid’s page under Youth Resources, the sidebar offers up links that kids or parents will find helpful.
This plan for the sidebar grew as we got to know the Ellsworth Public Library better. With every conversation, we learned more about what information they wanted online, and they learned that there were possibilities that they hadn’t thought of to make their jobs easier. For example, twelve contact forms each get distributed to a different department or staff member, ensuring information gets to the right staff member quickly and efficiently and that they collect the information they need from patrons.
The primary goal of the new website is to offer more information, resulting in more pages and in depth navigation.
- A current events and news area, where the staff of the EPL can post.
- Online services offered through the library, with links and instruction pages are provided on how to use these resources.
- Contact forms on the website, which connect users to the appropriate staff members at the library, streamlining the communication process between patrons and staff.
- Links to other social media sites
- Individual department pages
- Visual elements like navigation buttons that make scanning a page for information easy
- Current photographs of staff and the library itself
Because the site needed to be interactive, it was build the site in WordPress, which has a very user friendly Dashboard set up. This makes training people (even the so-called non-technical ones) easy, allowing them to make new pages and update existing ones. Like most open sources CMS systems, WordPress has a thriving community of people who are constantly improving the platform. Plugins which allow interaction with other technologies and sites, such as Facebook and Flickr, help keep the time spent on website maintenance down. The library already does a lot of work on these platforms so connecting them with the website cut down on time staff was spent posting information and allows them more time to do what they love: helping library patrons.
We’d like to thank Charlene and the rest of the staff for being a pleasure to work with. Nicole and I enjoyed learning more about the library’s resources, in particular the digital ones. Congratulations EPL on your new website!
Do you want to know more about your website options? Here’s our short guide on different kinds of websites. Want to support the great work of the Ellsworth Public Library? Like them on Facebook or join them on any of the other social media sites they are a part of.