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“Winning the Competition for Attention on the Web”

April 8, 2010

Breeding, M. (2008). Winning the competition for attention on the web. Computers in Libraries, 28(6), 31-33.

Marshall Breeding’s  article, “Winning the Competition for Attention on the Web,” addresses the issue that library webpages are having when it comes to maximizing its findability on the web. Since most users begin their research on the web, the challenge for libraries is to find ways to direct users to the library’s website. In addition to a well designed site, the library must also be sure to give a lot of detail about their collections in order to entice users to frequent the library for their information needs. The collection’s description should be laden with keywords that will improve their rankings in the search engines. Breeding makes a good point that many web designers design a page for visual appeal, usability, and navigation; often neglecting the importance of findability. What good is a beautifully designed page if no one can find it? Breeding then goes on to suggest ways of capturing the attention of causal webpage viewers. One important thing to remember is to design for the majority of users. The majority of users are people that tend to skim a webpage rather quickly, looking for keywords rather than reading all the minor details and fine print. Other suggestions that Breeding covers are: utilize an XML sitemap, exploit metatags, seek referrals, leverage social bookmarking, incorporate RSS, and offer content that users want.

I chose this article because it provides some perspective for those who wish to design webpages for libraries. This article is also useful to me as a web design student because it offers advice from one who is currently working in the field that I intend to join. I feel like I’ve been so concerned about the design and usability of my webpage that it never occurred to me how one would actually find it on the web!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. waslohn permalink
    April 8, 2010 9:36 pm

    It’s amazing what a complex meta structure exists to our data these days! The websites I find myself creating for my actual library position these days are literally stocked to the brim with metadata–while finding aids aren’t the most thrilling of things, the process of using EAD and XML has been for me.

    Thanks for the great article suggestion!

  2. Deborah permalink
    April 9, 2010 5:42 am

    I think for someone who is new to the material in the class, like myself, I’m just trying to get the process down. But as some of the websites demonstrate the impact of visual presentation is very important. Anyone who delves deeper into the topic must take this into consideration. So much information on the Internet to wade hipdeep through that you have to use the impact of visual content to be seen at all.

  3. April Mahrer permalink
    April 9, 2010 11:36 am

    Interesting article. I agree with the thought to design the web page for the majority of users. This was discussed earlier this year with regards to reading and findability, but I believe it’s important that someone designing a webpage should have experience/knowledge/awareness of what people will be searching for.
    In a library setting, this may mean having patrons and librarians work with the design team to create a website that is SEO friendly, provides the important links (librarians), and is intuitive to the average user (patrons). Too often we design our web pages in a bubble, doing what we think is awesome and cool, but missing the boat in terms of what the ‘average’ user is seeking. By creating for the user (not for the designer), we can increase findability and usability.

  4. jhansen1066 permalink
    April 9, 2010 7:59 pm

    I’m just starting to learn this year how much effort and expense is being spent to elevate the findability of a page on Google. Understanding what sorts of things web designers are doing to improve their page ranking is a little beyond me, but I do get that there is a battle between designers trying to manipulate the standings and the search engines trying to use real searches and relevance. Wow, libraries will now need serious expertise and (resources!) just to keep a chip in the game!

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