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It's all in a label: About the library, About us, What we do, Who are we?
Website labelling is a key element in guiding your visitors to where they want to be. Labels are used throughout website navigation as signposts intended to help visitors locate what they need easily and quickly.
Good labels avoid confusion and jargon to create clear and unambiguous navigation as people browse and search your site. A quick Internet search reveals multiple ways in which library websites label links to their catalogue:
It is important to consider the following points when deciding which terms to use for your website labels:
While you are in the planning stages of your site there is an opportunity to talk to your prospective users about terms that they would use to describe particular content areas of your website. Remember that you are familiar with the content and terminology of your site but what is it that your site visitors expect and want to see?
Card sorting is one method which can assist you in establishing how visitors expect site content to be grouped, and what labels they would assign to each broad area. Open card sorts allow users to group site content cards and create their own labels. Conversely Closed card sorts provide users with site content cards and your predetermined labels for grouping them. Read more about card sorting including a description of the process on the Usability.gov website.
Depending on what type of card sort you use with a group of potential library website visitors you can then analyse the results to establish any:
Another approach to creating meaningful labels for your site is to survey your audience. Mark Aaron Polger has published some research he conducted this year which examined what vocabulary students prefer on library websites.
This article includes the survey questions (as an appendix at the end) that were asked which you might find useful in your own research and planning.
All of this valuable information gathering can assist you in creating a new school library website or adding further content to an existing site. Whatever labels you eventually decide on the most important thing is to be consistent across your site and use the same terminology whenever that label appears on a menu or as a link.
The main aim is to create a site that is responsive to your target audience by including their perspective in the organisation and labelling of your site's content.
Image from http://cghs.dadeschools.net/library/
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