Curtis Rogers’ post The Library’s web site shouldn’t be a PUZZLE to Patrons (which is in part a summary of a post from The Marketing Blog) makes some great points about our how we can use our library web sites to engage our customers.
- Is your web site cluttered?
- Does the navigation make sense to customers?
- Is their initial interaction with the site relevant to them?
- Is your content up to date?
- Can you interact with your customers?
- Does it provide support when needed?
- Does it make sharing easy?
My soapbox lately has been the 3rd point. When customers get to our web sites, is it relevant to their needs? Can they find what they want?
And if what our customers want is to find is information, then lets give them some BIG search boxes right there on the main page (and on all the other pages!). And I don’t just mean the catalog search box. Give them an internet search box too. And put your meebo or other IM chat box right next to it to offer them some help if they can’t find what they want. Better yet, give them a search box that gets info from our catalogs, our databases and the web all rolled up in one. I know, that last one really isn’t so easy for many of us to do.
We can also create custom web search tools that focus on the types of information our customers ask for over and over. I bet you have a list of great web sites for different topics hiding somewhere on your web site? Pull out some of the most information rich sites and create a custom search tool that searches just those selected sites. Easy to do with tools like Google Custom Search and Rollyo.
And please, please, as Curtis suggests, do this one simple thing:
PUT YOUR PHONE NUMBER AND ADDRESS ON YOUR START PAGE! Many times, that’s all that people are looking for…
Better yet, add it to the footer info on all your pages!