1) Explore the Site

A review and analysis of the current website is necessary to understand how the site operates, what information and services it provides, and how it could improve. Below is summarization of the current site’s content:

Curry Public Library's Current Website Content

Additionally, analysis of the technical functionality of the current website is needed in order to ensure no functionality is lost. Current functionality includes:

-Accessibility: Print size can be changed
-Connected to catalog

2) Establish what Improvements and Functionality Requirements will be Necessary

-No loss of current functionality
-Needs to be easy to use and maintain
-Should feature obvious portal into catalog with Google-like functionality
-Should provide easy-to-find information on how to contact the library, information on staff, the library board, and library hours
-Prominently feature information about Friends of the Library
-Prominent Calendar of Events feature
-Provide an easy way to get to Library2Go and other eBook resources
-Prominent information about resources for children and YA
-Feature a space for genealogical research
-Uncomplicated portal into subscription databases
-Video capability
-Donation mechanism
-Mobile capability
-New logo

As a group, we discussed the need for high contrast and easy to read graphics and the ability to embed the catalog into the site. We also discussed the need for the platform to be open and sustainable in the long term.

3) Investigate Needs of Community

Jeremy Skinner, Library Director at Curry County Library, provided us with an analysis of the library population and described what patrons generally use the library for.

Curry County serves a population of approximately 5,000 people. The population that uses the library is predominantly retired, many on restricted incomes. This group is not savvy with technology but the library has seen a steady increase in the use of eBooks. The rest of the population is low income. These patrons use the library for wireless internet, public computer access, access to photocopier/fax/printer, recreational reading, continuing educational reading, reference, and access to DVDs. Over half the items circulated are DVDs. Percentage of youth in community is low; however it is a high priority for the library to provide services to the youth. The school district is not well-funded and its library resources are limited.

4) Establish Best Practices Guideline for Web design

Accessibility - Accessibility for visually impaired persons or users with disabilities works in the interest of everyone since it allows the site to be viewed in a variety of environments. Since a web page can be interpreted differently by different browsers with different capabilities, and since the language of a web page is constantly evolving, accessibility must be considered to make a page usable by as many people as possible. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) provides excellent resources for examining accessibility in more depth: The Web Accessibility Initiative

Navigability - Navigation refers to the method used to find information within a Web site. A navigation page is used primarily to help users locate and link to destination pages. A Web site’s navigation scheme and features should allow users to find and access information effectively and efficiently. Navigation elements should be organized in an easily understood manner, with appropriate menu and tabs. Fixed or sticky headers can make it easier for visitors to navigate through a site. Sticky headers allow visitors to scroll down without losing sight of the header, which enables them to quickly access the navigation bar rather than having to scroll back up to the top of the page. Further guidelines can be found at the government's site on website usability: Usability Guidelines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Search engines and web directories should find the site easily. Search is the most important way users discover websites. Page headings should be text and not text-in-images because the search engines can not read the images. Text links rank higher than image links in search engine algorithms.

Consistent Design - Organize the site based on users' tasks and their frequency. Users should be able to go directly to relevant pages. People should be able to see they will get their information, even if it is a couple of clicks away. Make it possible for users to find information by following a few clear paths. All pages of a website should use consistent fonts and colors for a uniform and professional appearance. Also strive to be consistent in the layout of pages, use of terminology or wording, and how the site allows users to interact with it. Use only three or four matched colors in the design of the web site to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Avoid or minimize use of animated or flashing or scrolling text, as many users find it annoying or think it is an advertisement.

5) Review other Library Sites

We reviewed other sites that used Plinkit and serviced populations similar to those of Curry County. Currently there are 58 other libraries in Oregon using Plinkit. These sites are very similar in design and capability. We also did comparisons of non-Plinkit library websites and looked for best practices and ideas about structure and design. This proved to be very helpful in how we approached the new website for Curry Public Library.