Visual Design

A new identity for Copenhagen children’s library

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The identity is based on a modular system of shapes that can form different characters and patterns. The idea is that the kids can have fun with this system – creating stories and characters of their own – and that the identity can continue to grow in many direction. [via HVASS&HANNIBAL]

Wow. The act of creation is built in to the identity of the library. Super cool.

“The result was very surprising – the children generally prefered the more simple designs, whereas the librarians prefered the more complex ones with lots of details. So in the end we decided on keeping the logo very simple with the possibilty of adding details when combining it with more of the identity’s shapes…” [via Creative Review]

Librarians preferring complexity? You don’t say!

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Richland Library Website

I learned about the Richland Library website in a good presentation by Kelly Coulter, the library’s Virtual Services Librarian.

Richland Library

Solid site with a lot of things going for it. Kelly knows her stuff so I think this site will only get better.

Neither here nor there: note their .com TLD. Don’t see many libraries with those. Maybe it actually is relevant since .com is arguably the most common and usable TLD.

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The Usable Library

Have you seen The Usable Library? I gave it a refresh last week.

The Usable Library: Straight talk from Influx Library User Experience

All sorts of straight talk about library usability, and a redesigned postcard that you can print and hang up!

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Eight Color Views from Ramsey County Library

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Typography themed maze? Yes!

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I was assured that the kids’ section isn’t always dark and empty. Looked cool like this though. Note the kid sized self check machines.

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Am I going soft or have I just been running into good library signs recently? This library had a unified system of good looking signs. One of the best I’ve seen.

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Finally, some journey mapping that we did.

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Vintage Demco Letters

File this one under: from way back when, when people used to care.

Nate Hill was poking around the 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library (it’s so hot right now!) and found an amazing pin mount letter system. He knew just the guy that would put this on the Web!

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Replacing horrible paper signs on stack end caps with this stuff would probably be a big improvement.

Previous vintage library ephemera on Walking Paper

Be An Army Librarian – 1963
Vintage Library Journal Wordmark
Library Hall of Fame from 1951

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Stockholm City Library’s Website

Lots of stuff to like about the City of Stockholm Libraries’ website.

Start | Stockholms Stadsbibliotek

 
Of mice and men | Stockholms Stadsbibliotek

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Introducing Prefab: the Library Website Service

I’m super excited to announce a new project from Influx:
Prefab: the library website service.

Prefab is a ready to launch website designed for libraries. We’ve designed an amazing library website so you can concentrate on developing awesome content.

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How it works

Sign up, fill in your content, launch. All in the same day, if you’re motivated!

Prefab is designed for libraries:

  • Easy catalog search integration
  • Simple item promotion
  • Events advertising space
  • Responsive design – looks great on all devices
  • Powered by WordPress
  • Easy links to social media profiles

What you get with Prefab:

  • Hosting
  • A back end training session
  • Email and phone support
  • Information Architecture and navigation suggestions
  • Help arranging your domain

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Stop the madness

Libraries across the country are all working – with limited resources and skills – to solve the same, basic library website design problems. It makes no sense! So we did the design work and created a template that’s appropriate for many different libraries.

There’s a lot more information at the Prefab page on Influx’s site.

Many thanks to Running in the Halls for their assistance with the theme development.

Need an amazing library website fast? Check out Prefab now.

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Librarian Design Share

I’ve long thought that a site like this should exist, so I’m very exited someone built it: Librarian Design Share.

Librarian Design Share

From their About page:

After one too many design-related exchanges on Gmail and Google Chat, we decided that people who work in libraries really need a space to share their design work and gain inspiration from the work of others. In the spirit of Stephen X. Flynn’s awesome Open Cover Letters project, we wanted to create an open online repository of interesting library-related design.

Take a poke around, there’s some solid stuff on the site. Nice work, April Becker and Veronica Douglas!

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Contrast Makes Websites Easier to Read

Cecily Walker clued me in to the beta Multnomah County Library website and made an apt comparison to my Plainest Library Website Ever doodle.

Here’s the new MCL site:

They’ve whittled it down to some important basics. I’m impressed.

The layout is pretty good, but the page is difficult to read. Click through and you’ll see what I mean. The gradients and transparencies reduce contrast between element and the background image is distracting. The lack of contrast is really apparent when looking at the logo; it blends into the background and has no impact. The site reminds me of bing.com, but notice how the image Bing uses is more like texture than an image of a particular thing. This makes it less distracting. Also the search box is solid white, increasing contrast.

Removing gradients and the background image from the MCL beta renders the page very plain, but much more readable (and actually quite similar to my previous doodle).

But this revision is problematic too. While is is a lot easier to read – and calmer – it has very little visual interest and makes the library seem lifeless. Surely there’s a way to add some visual interest that isn’t distracting, doesn’t sacrifice legibility, and is more than decoration. Here’s a quick attempt:

With some overlaid text, the bottom third+ of the page could be an image carousel effectively advertising library news and events. It could also connect people to popular parts of the site, or it could set the tone for using the library:

Notice that a big image carousel removes the need for the small grey one. This helps because the search box and grey carousel are so similar in size that they compete for our attention. In this mockup there’s more contrast between the two.


This concept isn’t launch ready but it is headed in a good direction.

The site suffers from contrast problems on subpages too. The grey text on a barely transparent brown background is difficult to read.

Here’s the same page, black on white (and section headers emboldened).

I’m looking forward to seeing how MCL polishes up the site!

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Libraries, Typography and Reader Mood

Getting libraries to take typography seriously is a bit of a hard sell. I certainly understand that there are bigger picture issues for us to think about. And I get that fretting over the shapes of letters can seem a bit precious.

But the typography we use affects how our members perceive us. So it is worth thinking about.

A short paper titled The Aesthetics of Reading [pdf] confirms that good typography leads to better experiences. I found this bit about perceived elapsed time particularly interesting:

…we found that participants in the poor typography condition underestimated their reading time by 24 seconds on average, while participants in the good typography condition underestimated their reading time by 3 minutes and 18 seconds on average.

The study also reports that good typography can make people more creative and in a better mood!

With the candle task we found that 4 of 10 participants successfully correctly solved the task in the good typography condition while 0 of 9 participants correctly solved the task in the poor typography condition. This is a reliable difference, ?2 (1) = 2.47, p < .05. This indicates that participants in the good typography condition were in a better mood before starting the candle task then were the participants in the poor typography condition.

Having read this paper, I now feel more justified to blather on about typography. (Consider yourself warned.)

Dmitry Fadeyev at Usability Post has a nice summary of the paper: Effects of Typography on Reader Mood and Productivity

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