Effective website design for libraries

Based on my reading of Mathews (2009), Lazaris (2009), and McBurnie (2007), the following criteria have been developed with regard to effective library website design:

  • The site should contain links guiding users to other information sources, positioning the library as a “gatekeeper to information”. McBurnie (2007, para. 7)
  • The library site should have a social bookmarking account, this may facilitate the building of community around shared topics of interest as well linking to library resources.
  • The site should be able to be easily bookmarked, allowing for the easy sharing of library content.
  • A channel for comments and feedback should be provided, this will allow for the library to move away from the traditional form of one-way messages, McBurnie (2007, para. 4) to a more open, interactive form of communication.
  • Use visual cues to represent specific materials within the collection. Matthews (2009, p, 24) explains that this breaks up text and allows for ease of navigation of the site.
  • Segment the site, using a different voice and tone according to the unique needs of the various patron groups. Matthews (2009, p.24) suggests the development of separate content for different major patron groups. When considering younger library patrons, Lazaris (2009) recommends  bright, vivid colours that  stimulate the senses along with games promoting education that allow for direct interaction.
  • Ensure that the site is able to be accessed on a mobile device. Matthews( 2009, p.25) explains that designing for the portable experience is planning for the future.

The effectiveness of Sutherland Shire Library website was evaluated based on this set of criteria, and aspects of the site that could be improved using Web 2.0 technologies were identified.

  • Each page on the site includes a form for comments and offers the opportunity for a reply if desired.
  • The site does not include social bookmarking and could have been improved with the provision of an account. However, the site is easily bookmarked and shared through the placement of widgets on each page.
  • The site contains a link to the library’s flickr photostream which is used to promote library events and displays. This can also be seen to be an effective way for the library to build its online identity.
  • The site is effectively segmented into major patron groups. There is good use of bright, colourful, eye catching elements in the children’s section and educational games are provided.
  • The site is easily accessed on a mobile device and a service for the download of digital magazines to devices is offered.


Mathews, B. (2009). Web design matters: Ten essentials for any library site. Library Journal, (available in electronic full text from CSU library – http://www.csu.edu.au/division/library)

McBurnie, J. (2007). Your online identity: Key to marketing and being found. FUMSI, (October). Retrieved from http://web.fumsi.com/go/article/share/2510

Lazaris, L. (2009). Designing websites for kids: Trends and best practices, Smashing Magazine, (27 November). Retrieved from http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/11/27/designing-websites-for-kids-trends-and-best-practices/


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