27 July 2009

Great Marketing Idea! Digital Picture Frames Lure Potential Users

Amber Draksler and Melinda Byrns of Inova Fairfax Health Sciences Library, Falls Church, Virginia, have a great marketing idea. Load your presentation on a digital picture frame and take it to your potential customers.

Read all about it in National Network 34(1):12, July 2009 published by the Hospital Libraries Section of the Medical Libraries Association. NN is available online, but you have to have the password. Write Amy Frey, editor, at amyfre@hfsc.org to get it.

21 July 2009

Promote the Nexus

Peter Persic, Public Relations and Marketing Director, Los Angeles (California) Public Library, presented this marketing/advocacy idea at the annual conference of the American Library Association.

Libraries are known for Information. This need is also filled by Google.
Libraries are known for Reading. This need is also filled by Barnes & Noble.
Libraries are known as Cultural Centers. This need is also filled by museums.
Libraries are know as Community Centers. This need is also filled by Starbucks.

However, the library "is uniquely positioned at the nexus of all four needs." So he encouraged listeners to "promote the nexus."

As reported by Kathy Dempsey [Libraries Are Essential/editor MLS: Marketing Library Services] on The “M” Word: Marketing Libraries, 20 July 2009, http://themwordblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/im-finally-getting-back-to-blogging.html

14 July 2009

Designing web pages for "mature" users

As a "mature" user myself (I am almost 62 and now have to set documents in Word to 150% to read them), this was an interesting article. I've summarized the main points by Eric Schaffer [founder and CEO, Human Factors International, Fairfield, Iowa, USA], UI Design Newsletter, March 2007. You can read the whole thing at http://www.humanfactors.com/downloads/mar07.asp#kath

According to a study by the Annenberg School at USC, American Internet users include 75% of adults aged 56-65 and 41% of adults over 66. If we want to design for the bulk of our users, we had best consider the more mature user groups.

According to a recent study, the top reasons older people don’t use computers are lack of motivation or reason to use the computer, lack of experience with current technology, and cognitive differences and age-related declines. So it’s not that they don’t want to use your site—it’s that they find it too tricky or intimidating to be worth that effort at this point in their lives. As usability practitioners, we need to change this!!!

By tradition we must design for at least 90 percent of our users. So we see that age will be a factor for all but a few youth-oriented sites. He adds, “I also expect that the need to accommodate age will grow as the already technically savvy users grow old. I already buy watches based on my ability to read the dial at night without my glasses, and dump any news site that wiggles or pops making reading extra difficult. And they better keep redesigning PDAs to keep up with my rheumatism.”

You will need to overcome mature users’ slowly deteriorating vision, not being able to retain as much information in their working memory, and difficulty in processing information as fast as they once could.

What can you do?
**Make navigation menus and action buttons bigger and use mouse-over effects and other methods to show where to click.
**Use a sans serif type font such as Helvetica, Arial or Verdana and type of at least 12 or 14-point size.
**Use double or 1.5 spacing to make it easier for the eye to track from the end of one line to the beginning of the next. As always for the Web, keep text short and use bulletized lists to facilitate scanning.
**Use very little, and preferably no animation. Animation and scrolling text and graphics are the most distracting visual elements to humans overall. In addition, icons should be simple and should include a descriptive label so that your older users will not have to “guess” their meaning.
**Avoid use of pull-down menus.
**Use auto-suggest for likely misspellings to automatically show what a correct spelling would be. Then the user can click the suggested link without having to reenter their search terms.

Zaphiris, P., Kurniawan, S., Research-derived Web Design Guidelines for Older People, Assets ‘05, Baltimore, MD USA. ACM 1-595593-159-7/05/0010 (2005), http://www.soi.city.ac.uk/%7Ezaphiri/Papers/assets2005.pdf.

Chaparro, B., Minnaert, G. and Phipps, C., Mouse-over vs. Point-and-Click: It Depends! Usability News 1(2), February 1999,

Making Your Web Site Senior Friendly checklist, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/checklist.pdf

BOOK REVIEW: The Accidental Library Marketer

Kathy Dempsey, the long-time editor of the newsletter MLS: Marketing Library Services, has written a great book on library marketing. It is designed for the librarian who, for any of many reasons, has become the go-to person for marketing in his or her library. Of course for solos, the library marketer is you.

Dempsey really gets marketing. She defines it as “the process where the ultimate goal is moving goods and/or services from the producer and provider to a consumer….True marketing always involved a number of steps that ensure that the consumer will end up with those goods and services.” (13) It starts with finding out about your customers/patrons/users/students and ends with evaluating feedback from them. That’s right—marketing is not the same as publicity or PR or promotion. It is much more than that.

Therefore, she starts with communication, goes on to evaluating your current situation (environment), and discusses using demographic or other data. There’s a chapter on marketing mistakes, getting management and staff buyin, making evidence-based decisions, and statistics. Then it’s on to the writing of a marketing plan, rules for good promotional materials, communication tips, and using your website for outreach. The last chapter is called “Finally, the Fun Stuff” and has success stories, wow factor ideas, “snappy comebacks for that awful question, ‘Now that we have the Internet, why do we still need libraries?’” and a final lesson. What’s that? “you should always be ready to respond to anyone, anytime, anywhere if you hear people question the existence of libraries. You understand their value—heck, you live their value. All you need to do to help in a big way is to have a sentence of two in mind so you’re always ready to spring into action. You don’t need a special occasion.” Well said.

The book is oriented mostly toward public and academic libraries, but there are a few mentions of school and—amazingly—special libraries. She even quotes me (page 91). But all of her book is useful for every kind of librarian. Read this and put it into action.

There is an index and three appendixes, all articles from MLS: Marketing Library Services: A: Improving our media relations via strategic communications planning, by Marsha Iverson [King County (Washington) Library System]; B: Designing promo materials that are legible, by Pat Wagner [Pattern Research, Denver, Colorado]; and C: Promotion is not the same as marketing, by Christie Koontz [Florida State University, Tallahassee]. I’d have liked to see a bibliography or list of readings, but there is a list of links, chapter by chapter, on the website for Dempsey consulting firm, http://www.librariesareessential.com/the-accidental-library-marketer/chapter-by-chapter/

Bibliographic Information:
Dempsey, Kathy, The Accidental Library Marketer, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2009, ISBN 978-1-57387-368-0, US$29.50. Order at http://infotoday.stores.yahoo.net/aclima.html

Signs for the Reference Desk

Cindy Rosser [Waco-McLennan County (Texas) Library] collected these neat ideas for signs at the reference desk.

"Pay no attention to those other guys, we're the ones with all the answers!”

"IT knows about computers, Reference knows about everything.” (use with caution if you ever want IT to work on your computer again)

For school libraries, “We know the answers to your assignments.”

And if you have a lot of online research databases, “Talk to us and never have to come to the library again.”

Nine things not to have on your Web site

Jeff Wuorio posted the following suggestions on ConnectIT USA. Most are common sense, but some may not have occurred to you.

1. Your photo on the home page: It can detract from why the visitor should be there in the first place. “Your Web site should be all about the viewer, not about you.” (Larina Kase, Performance and Success Coaching, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
2. Visual (and audio) overkill: Can be confusing, unprofessional, take too long to load, and definitely distracting.
3. Too many confusing menu options: Offer a variety of content, but keep the site structure simple.
4. Information that could lead to privacy or security breaches: Leave employee photos, e-mail addresses and personal details about them off the site. “Confine details [on products] to what is absolutely needed to attract and entice customers into buying, and to not give away the company store.”
5. Information that could tip off competitors: “Certain bits of information might seem innocuous on their own, but when pieced together could reveal more than you want about your business practices, strategic partners, corporate clients, and your internal organization.”
6. Undue jargon and techno-speak: “Keep your copy and content straightforward—I if need be, have a non-expert review it for clarity.”
7. Content that makes your business sound too good to be true: “Don’t make your Web site an ad. Make it an interactive conversation with your audience.”
8. Unsupervised chat rooms: Moderate to avoid spam, off-color comments, potential security breaches, etc.
9. Bad links and outdated material: Outdated content or broken links will turn customers off—fast.

URL: http://www.connectitnews.com/usa/story.cfm?item=3483

03 July 2009

Networking Tip of the Day—Business Card Poker

Next time you attend a networking event (meeting of your local library association or consortium, for instance), be sure to take a nice stack of your business cards. If your employer doesn’t provide them or if you’re unemployed—especially if you’re out of a job—make your own on your computer or at your local print shop.

When you sit down at the table, deal out one business card to each person or place setting at the table—just like in poker. The idea is for everyone to follow suit (or is this business card bridge?) so that each person will have the business card of everyone at the table. During the meal, write a note on the back of each card so that you will remember 1) at what event you collected the card and 2) something that the person wore, said, or did that was memorable.

You should, of course, continue to collect business cards the old-fashioned way, when you meet someone formally or informally. This is just an additional idea.

When you get back to the office or back home, enter the information on both sides of the card into a database. In no time you will build up a database of contacts that you can use when you have a tough reference question, need an ILL fast, are looking for a job, or just want to connect with a colleague. (I use AskSam because it’s super easy to set up and use and searches all fields of the entries lightning fast. I’ve had databases with nearly 2000 entries and the response is instantaneous. See http://www.asksam.com/brochure.asp for more information. )

So, play a “game” of business card poker at the next networking opportunity and be a winner!