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Building a new website for Skokie Public Library

I joined Skokie Public Library in August 2014 as a Web Developer in the Virtual Community Engagement department and launched a redesigned user-centered, responsive, and modern website in February 2015.

The Library had just finished a successful reorganization, but had an outdated website with a large collection of stale content. The website was built on an outdated platform making it tedious and fragile to update. The Skokie Public Library staff library staff deserved a better platform to serve the Skokie community and promote their services.

A few of my favorites services Skokie Public Library services.

  • BOOMbox: An interactive space designed to promote STEAM learning for all ages.
  • Bookmatch: Request a list of titles compiled by expert readers’ advisory staff based on your personal interests. (More on this later)
  • Instagram: They have a professional photographer capturing a vibrant village.

How cool are these?

With organizational needs understood, we made quick work to research user needs through user-centered design and “Just Enough Research” techniques. It became clear the redesigned website would focus on the follow core functionality:

  • Account access
  • Catalog
  • Event and class registration

Let’s take a look at a few user interface screenshots that were designed around these user needs.

Homepage

The new homepage creates an improved virtual space for staff to promote the high quality services that the community knows and loves about Skokie Public Library. It’s a win for both sides.

A screenshot of the Skokie Public Library homepage. Has a large colorful picture related to an event across the top of the site. Logo is top left. Navigation is top right along with a link to My Account that is emphasized. The body of the site has links to upcoming events, and then a few featured events with more information.

Events calendar

The older website had a third party tool that was difficult to use and didn’t quite have the same familiar look and feel of the library. We designed a custom calendar view so that browsing events was both easy and fun.

A calendar view of Skokie Public Library's website events.

Lists

What’s a library website without curated lists? Once the core functionality of the website was launched, we focused on a list building tool for staff to promote interesting titles. Work included:

  • Created staff workflow for drafting and publishing lists.
  • API connections to pull in metadata automatically to save staff from manually entering information.
  • Usability tests with staff to ensure workflows were easy.
  • We were even able to reuse the list building functionality for Bookmatch, a similar, but personalized service.

A calendar view of Skokie Public Library's website events.

Team effort

If there is one takeaway from working at Skokie Public Library, it is that organizational support and user experience minded folks make it easy to deliver services that matter.

If you thought this was interesting, you should follow these talented library folks on Twitter to see what they and Skokie Public Library is up to recently:

Visit the website

Instead of looking at screenshots and having me talk about features, try using the calendar, lists, or the website in general yourself.

Skokie Public Library


Blog post photo credit: Skokie Public Library Instagram

Would you like to work together?

I can help plan, design, prototype, and develop your web project. Let's get things started by sending me an email.