Whether you’re creating a LibGuide or setting up your organization's LibAnswers FAQ groups, keeping basic organization and design principles in mind can help you get your intended message across clearly and concisely! We have gathered some simple, yet impactful tips to use throughout your Springshare products.
Design With Your Audience In Mind
The look, feel, and functionality of your LibGuides, LibCal site, LibAnswers homepage, etc. will vary drastically depending on who you are creating the resource for. Springy sites created for public libraries will undoubtedly look and feel different than those created for academic or special libraries. Internal tools created for library staff will use a different set of vocabulary altogether. The good news is, you know your patrons and staff best!
- Getting Started: Gather Your Content. Whether you are gathering subject information, reading lists, or frequently asked questions, start by making a thorough list of everything you want to include. This will help you define the purpose, message, and structure.
- Create Buckets. At this point, you will likely start to notice natural groups forming based on information type or intended audience – you are a librarian, after all.
- Map it out. Grab a pencil and paper and sketch out your ideal finished product. As an example, if you’re creating a brand new LibGuide, you might think about the groups of information or how many columns to use, or whether you prefer a top or side navigation.
- Find the Key Message. At this point, don’t worry about including every image or piece of information, just think about what you want to highlight. If something is really important, make sure to include it at the top or middle of your sketch. Try experimenting with the size and placement of important words to see how that changes things.
Create Visual Structure
Navigating a website that is mostly comprised of text can be challenging. Breaking the text up with white space, images, and thinking about the hierarchy of information, both visually and conceptually, is critical to making the intended message pop. We've gathered simple, yet impactful tips that can be applied to an entire LibGuide or a block of text.
Simple Design Tips:
- Use concise headers. This will allow the viewer to skim the page and find the information they are looking for more easily.
- Break content up into sections that are easy to navigate. This principle can be applied to data sets, staff schedules, FAQ groups, even the header image on your LibCal site.
- Include a call to action, when appropriate. This could be a highlighted link for the patron to register for an event or learn more about a specific topic.
- Use white space! Doing so will help your patrons find the information they are looking for and help keep your LibGuide, LibWizard Tutorial, or even your LibCal Homepage from looking cluttered.
- Include visuals to help get your message across or catch attention.
- Color has an impact. Highlight important content with color pops. Using a specific color scheme will emphasize the connection to your organization or institution.
Accessibility is a critical piece of the design process and it's something that we take seriously at Springshare. We'd suggest watching our recorded training session on LibGuides Accessibility and LibAnswers FAQ Accessibility.
Check out this Alt Text Decision Tree to help determine if an image needs alt text.
- Use headers. For example, in LibGuides, your guide title is automatically set to be a header1, box titles are header2, so any headings inside of boxes should be set to header3.
- Check text contrast with WebAIM Color Contrast Checker. Use this tool to verify that text can be read based on the text and background colors, ensuring your site meets and exceeds accessibility guidelines.
Learn More with Springshare Training Sessions!
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Our Springshare Training Team has created many sessions to help you apply design principles to your LibApps. Check out these training videos or hop on over to our Training Site to explore and learn more.
- Font and Color - dig into best practices for font and color use with this recorded training session.
- Free Graphics Tools - From Canva to Adobe Color Checker, this training will teach you all you need to know!
- Go beyond the basics and learn how to customize your LibGuides System or LibCal Homepage with CSS.
- LibConnect Email Templates - Learn how to create visually interesting email templates with LibConnect.
- Learn About Design for Mobile - Go beyond the computer screen.