IL 2011: Tips on Redesigning Library Sites
11/20/2011 02:56:00 AM | Author: Christa
Monday, October 17, 2011 

Making Connections: Conversations, Collaboration and Negotiation in a Library Website Redesign Project.
Michael Epstein - University of San Diego, Copley Library

When working on redesign, conversations were most important. Relationships are as important as tools and tech. successful collaboration with stakeholders. must be able to communicate needs of a library website.

In USD context –

Previous univ wide redesign, library not involved, given templates – very locked down version of page, ‘place your content here’, resistance to being boxed in by templates that we hadn’t been included in the conversation about, this led to benign neglect. Didn’t implement them.

Then, CIO named interim director of library, nobody was happy with old templates, not just library. New redesign. Since CIO was director of library, could have conversation with him about library role in redesign. Instead of entire redesign, doing a few depts. at a time. Library website redesign team formed – librarians and IT.

IT and librarians – defensive at first, one size does not fit all, needed to explain why library is different, needs are diff from other departments on campus. Agreed to look at other library websites. Helped IT see how library is different. 


Daily conversations on content and design. Constant communication was key.

Web advisory group within library.

Univ stakeholders unhappy with new template. Not sure who, just some people from higher up. New consultant hired. Meetings with consultant. Library had place at the table. People interested in branding and uniformity vs. unique dept needs.

Lessons learned:

-Look for opportunities to collaborate with non-library personnel.

-Build relationship thru conversations, negotiations, compromise.

-Communicate unique needs of library users with other stakeholders and other people you’re working with. Can’t assume they understand what you’re working with.

-Be willing to give up some control in return for a truly collaborative approach. It’s OK, you don’t have to do the whole thing. As long as you are both able to express your needs and work things out. – a redesign case study
Virginia Franklyn - Pikes Peak Library District

Old website about 8 years old, too small.

Project plan – read Project Management for Dummies. Really helped. Drew up project plan with timeline. On a wiki so all staff had access via intranet.

Choose framework.

Looked at WP and Joomla. But decided Drupal was best for them. Big websites use them, like what they needed. Geared toward staff data entry and patron participation. Received so much help from the community.

Had to learn Drupal. Drupal 6 by David Mercer. Drupal 7 is out now, should use that, but Drupal 6 was available when they started.

Did every example in book to learn it. Yes, very steep learning curve, but it worked to learn it. Drupal community is amazing. Drupal southern Colorado user group, library BOFs, consultants. But mostly trial and error. Broke website a lot when in development. Have a sense of humor about Drupal. Don’t have a strict timeline because things will come out of left field.  Be flexible.

Website survey – needed to know how to set up site. Catalog/my account. Suggest a book. Find classes/programs. Became sections for site.

Website layout


Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. How to make a website intuitive. Get user to what they need as easily and fast as possible.

Usability testing after basic infrastructure was built. Usability Hot Team. Doing 3-4 usability tests is optimal. But do at least 1. “Of course, everyone knows usability tests are very important, and must be done.”

2 years and 1 baby later… = blog of how they did it.

Extreme make-over
Marin County Free Library

Moved from a centralized to open control. Moved from proprietary CMS to open source.

3 big takeaways – patience,  perseverance, passion for the project.

Integrating social media very important. Big 5 – Blogger, Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube.

Free labor – internship program with univ.

Also decided to simultaneously rebrand site. Realized too late it was a terrible idea.  Concentrated on content development.

Social media committee. Weekly meetings.

Used Google docs as repository. Constant communication.


-When evaluating vendor proposals – get examples with similar budget as yours. So you know what you can really expect to get.

-Get expectations from vendor of when things will be done.

-Wireframes – use different term, like diagrams. Some staff didn’t understand the term and had blocks about it which lasted throughout project.

-Useful tools – content spreadsheet detailing all content, who was responsible, deadline. Google docs.
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