cleaning a window

Spring cleaning for your library’s website

Allegedly, we’re heading into some season that doesn’t necessarily involve horrible weather and the desire to hibernate.  Perhaps, you might be thinking about cleaning things out after the long winter.  Hopefully, that urge includes your library’s website.  In that vein, I offer…
Blogs I follow (and you should, too)

5 blogs I follow and you should, too

I’m an avid user of Feedly, and I subscribe to a ridiculous number of blogs and websites.  However, if I had to narrow those down to the bare essentials, these are the five I couldn’t live without. Mashable.  Honestly, if…
Get help with your website's analytics

Get help understanding your website’s data

Many libraries devote significant resources to their website. It’s important to know how it’s being used (and not being used).  Google Analytics is a popular tool for website analytics, but I have to admit – it scares me. It’s an…
Tool Tuesday: ReciteThis

Tool Tuesday: ReciteThis

So…you probably already know that social media has become increasingly visual.  Images and photos typically get more engagement than plain text.  But, what if you don’t have a fun photo to share?  What if you have a great quote, but…
5 quick fixes for your library's website

5 quick fixes for your library’s website

I’ve talked about all of these before, either in various presentations or blog posts.  If you’re looking for a quick tune-up for your library’s website, you might try starting with these: Cut the text on the homepage.  Nobody’s reading it. …
Too quiet for you?

Too quiet for you?

I’ve mentioned before how I primarily work from home nowadays, where it’s very quiet. So, I’m often looking for ways to jazz up my work environment without actually playing music, which I often find to be too distracting.  I’ve written…
Carousels: time to go

Carousels: time to go

Carousels have almost become ubiquitous.  I am frequently asked about them when I start designing a site for a library.  I often. now, make it clear that these don’t represent a good design choice. Yes, they’re convenient. They seemingly solve…
public computing: thoughts from the field

Public computing : Thoughts from the field

Librarians generally don’t like to say “No” to patrons: no, you can’t do this, no, you can’t have this. But they don’t understand the technical challenges involved as we try to preserve and protect public computers so that everyone has…
Social sharing widget Flare tool Tuesday

Tool Tuesday: Flare by Filament

Getting people to share stuff, especially via social media channels, is always a challenge.  I’ve tried various WordPress plugins and sharing buttons for my blog, but never been really happy with how most operated; typically, most required being at the…
Tagboard

Tool Tuesday: Tagboard

Last fall, I was tasked with trying to pull in all of the social media stuff tagged with a state convention’s hashtag into one, easy-to-digest display.  My was first thought was along the lines of “Oh, I guess I’ll go…
TL;DR Tool Tuesday

Tool Tuesday: TL;DR

Perhaps you’re like me, and you have the attention span of a gnat.  Or, maybe you’re just like most people, and you don’t have time to read today’s news, in depth.  That’s where this handy site comes in:  TL;DR.  (You…
Asking the WRONG question

Asking the wrong question

“Any suggestions on how to get more followers? I’d like to get more for the [insert social media site here] account I created. Thanks!” I see a fair number of this kind of question on library forums and from people…
Which tool do you wish you had known about at the beginning of the Internet? This one.

Tool Tuesday: NameChk

If someone were to ask me “Which tool do you wish you had known about at the beginning of the Internet?” it wouldn’t be that difficult to answer.  It would almost certainly be  NameChk. NameChk does pretty much one thing. …
Imagine How fast you could get your work down without all those distractions! Cold Turkey"

Going “Cold Turkey”

I admit it. Sometimes, the siren call of Facebook or Twitter gets to me, and I head over to social media to see what’s going on.  Maybe it happens to you, as well?  Or, perhaps instead of social media, you…
Need a timeline?

Need a timeline?

Have you ever needed to create a timeline?  Or had a student ask you how to create one?  Just like most other things nowadays, there’s an app/online tool/thingy for that.  One of these is called When in Time. This is…

Challenges

I was recently asked to talk to a SLIS class for the University of Illinois, concerning  what I do and what real-world advice I might care to impart to a class full of potential web librarians and developers.  One of…
I've got questions

Thinking about web analytics

(Today’s post is almost more of a question than anything else, so please post your thoughts in the comments.  I’m genuinely interested.) I’ve got questions. Most libraries have some form of web analytics, to measure at least the basics:  page…
Voicemail on your library's website

Voicemail for your website

Now, they may be out there, but I have yet to run across a library that accepts voice messages via  its after-hours answering machine. (I’ve never been clear on whether this was an active choice or a limitation of the…
Newsle extra extra...read all about your friends

All the news that’s fit to email

I love just about anything that will organize my crazy life for me, and I especially love those services that collate and push data, so I don’t have to go chasing after it.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about…

Head Meets Desk (Part Two)

(You can see Part One here.) Last time on MeanLaura, I shared stories from library IT staff about moments they had with non-tech staff that were frustrating.  This week, I’m sharing more stories, this time about some of the…interesting…things that…
Head meets desk moments from Library IT

Head Meets Desk (Part One)

A little while ago, I put out a call to the public library IT community to share their best (worst?) “Head meets desk” moments.  You know, those times when they drove out to a branch, only discover that the thing…
Handy little tool

Sunrise: a handy little tool

While there’s lots of ground-breaking technology happening right now, sometimes it’s the little things that catch my attention. I sign up for all sorts of new web things.  If it’s in beta, I usually want an invite.  I like testing…
Why your library's website layout matters

Why your website layout matters

From a usability perspective, layout has always been important.  If the tasks people come to do the most often are hidden, people leave your site, frustrated.  Recently, with the advent of mobile devices of all kinds, layout has also taken…
Subjects go social--Sulia

Subjects go social: Welcome to Sulia

Yes, Sulia is yet another social network.  However, unlike many of its brethren, Sulia makes no attempt to promote itself as the “next Facebook” or a “Twitter-killer.”  Which is a positive, since its chances of becoming either are just about…
Is Facebook still free?

Is Facebook still free?

The answer to that question is, in short:  Sorta.  Kinda.  Maybe. This week, Facebook announced a new feature for Facebook Profiles (individual users–people–not Facebook Pages for brands/organizations).  Users now have the option to “promote” their posts, meaning that more people…
Exclamation points time to go

Exclamation points. Don’t use them.

“Exclamation points, you see, are evil. “ James Chartrand, Men With Pens I’m fairly certain that I’ve talked about this in nearly every web-related workshop or presentation  I’ve ever done; despite this emphasis, I still see exclamation points appearing on…
Thinking a bit about online ads

Thinking a bit about online advertising

Advertising your library online is tempting.  The expertise required to set it up is minimal, and the allure can quickly overwhelm you when you realize that most of it is PPC (pay per click), meaning that you only have to…
Which browser(s) does your library offer?

Have you given much thought to browsers?

Lately, it seems that all I, as a web developer, hear, is about mobile web usage. There’s been a lot of posts on the Web about the forthcoming mobile apocalypse (Mobipocalypse?), where people will browse the Web with nothing but…
Some lines about LOGOS

Some lines about logos

In my job, I work with a lot of library logos. Especially because, when possible , I design around the logo.  I don’t like to just create a template and stick a logo in it.  I like the rest of…
Optimizing images for the Web

Getting web images down to size

Generally speaking, most library staff I work with understand that, when you take an image off a digital camera, it’s huge.  It’s easy to see that it’s huge; often, the photo may take up more than your monitor.  So, most…
Is it theft? Yeah, it is.

Is it theft? Yeah, it is.

Recently, I had the unpleasant experience of discovering that one of my custom graphics was appearing, without permission, on a library’s website.  It appeared that the library had simply copied the graphic from the original site for which it was…
Is your content smelly?

Beware of “smelly” content

   Many libraries give a lot of thought to how their website looks, and some even spend a significant time thinking about how people actually use their sites.  However, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the content.  Content especially…
Should you pin your hopes on Pinterest?

Pin your hopes on Pinterest?

Every so often, a new social media site starts to make the rounds on the hype circuit.   The latest of these is a new service called Pinterest.  Pinterest is still in beta, and is currently invite-only.  However, despite this,…