Stop Driving Our Customers Nuts!

My friend Cheryl Becker has a great post up at her site bemoaning how difficult many library websites make it to find contact information. She was inspired by the M Word blog.

Man, I totally get behind this.  I find that on so many levels, libraries make it hard on customers. Our website is a perfect example (I am not linking to that monstrosity; if you want to see it, please use your google skills). I can barely find what I need. How can a customer?  On the good side, we are in re-design mode.

But then there's the on-line catalog.  Eeeee-yooooo. People gamely try to get it to give them the info they need but it is absolutely non-intuitive.  We don't foresee a time with our current vendor where the average user will be able to successfully use it without constant staff assistance. That makes it easy on the customer. NOT! It does mean job security for staff though. Hmmm, stealth vendor support of librarians?

Or let's consider signage.  Why do we assume that kids can read anything that we have posted around the place?  Why are we not relying on pictures and graphics to help our pre-emergent and emergent reading kid-customers find what they need? Gack.

How about information on programs. How many hoops do we make people jump though to get the information they need? One thing that has helped us is immediately posting programming on our website as a downloadable PDF as soon as we have it nailed down (even before any printed handouts are out) and putting out business-card sized handouts with bit.ly URLs pointing there. People can get a sneak peek months beforehand.

It's worth looking around at our work places, our websites, our handouts and our procedures to find ways to welcome our public by making it easy to use and peruse the library.  I can't help thinking that it  would help relieve nuttiness for all!

Image: 'Nuts 1'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/82607712@N00/2079743107

1 comment:

  1. That loud scream you just heard was our adult services librarian, who has been working on a new website for MONTHS, in her own time, on the weekends - and we can't get it to work! The soft sobbing was our director, who despite multiple help desk tickets, calls, complaints, bringing in an outside IT person, cannot get the new ILS they foisted on us to work. Helpless, I'm telling you! We are HELPLESS.