Niles Public Library Website
Our patrons are able to do things like apply for a library card online, suggest a new program, ask questions, look up information in a database, sign up for a program, and use our catalog. The attractive look makes people want to click further and the use of landing pages over drop-down menus helps us promote the services we want people to know about. We are very happy with our website.Susan Lempke | Assistant Library Director | Niles Public Library
Graphic Design USA American Web Design Award 2014 | Hermes Creative Award — Website Overall/Nonprofit, Honorable Mention 2014
Here’s how Mightybytes helped a local library become an important resource for a growing online community.
Niles Public Library has been serving its community for more than 55 years. The library provides an exciting array of programs and services to the community’s 59,000 residents, from toddlers to seniors, who live in Niles and parts of unincorporated Des Plaines and Glenview in Illinois. With a collection of approximately 270,000 items, the Niles Public Library’s annual circulation exceeds 1.1 million loans. The library’s website, however, was no longer able to keep up with patron demand for information and services. They turned to Mightybytes for a complete redesign.
Library staff wanted the new website to communicate that the library is a warm, fun, and educational place to be, and ditch the “stodgy” library stereotype. Most importantly, they wanted to increase the findability of high-value content on their site, and make site edits easy for library staff.
Our team employed card sorting exercises, a form of user experience design research, to validate assumptions about the site’s information architecture. We invited 20 library patrons, aged 11 to 70 years old, to group content as they would expect it to be categorized on the library website. This helped us create a patron-centered, credible navigation structure that makes different content types easy to find. The exercises also provided valuable insights into library services that patrons may not be aware of.
Contemporary Visual Design
Mightybytes created a responsive web experience that works across devices and platforms. We also aligned our design work with Niles Public Library’s desire for the website to reflect a refreshing, contemporary feel. The typography creates a bridge between old Venetian typefaces and modern Dutch fonts. Repeating patterns with fixed background images, and a bright, modern color palette defy library stereotypes.
Ensuring the library catalog was easily accessible from all parts of the site was critical to the site’s success from day one. Mightybytes created a fixed-position (persistent) header bar with a search function to ensure the library’s catalog was searchable from every page on the website.
Library patrons find the redesigned Niles Library website easier to use, and the volume of traffic and requests to key sections increased as a result. Library staff can more quickly and easily update the site to provide up-to-date information for patrons.
Some results include:
- The library has tracked an increase in questions coming through Springshare’s LibAnswers chat tool, which confirms that customers are now able to find the “Ask a Librarian” service more easily. This is a website feature that the library wanted to promote more prominently on the new website.
- The library’s highly valuable online databases are now categorized alphabetically and by subject, making them easier to browse and search from the library website.
- Library patrons can now quickly locate the library’s catalog to search, hold, and renew materials, with easy link access to “My Account.”
- For the first time, library faculty and staff are able to easily post content and make modifications to the site as often as needed without using an outside contractor.
- Visitors now enjoy an aesthetic experience that complements the redesigned Niles Public Library building interior.