Website Nightmares: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library

I’m a fan of libraries. I wish they’d hurry up and get on the eBook bandwagon so I could get titles on my Kindle, but that’s another post. The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library is regarded as one of the largest and best in the nation. The same can not be said for its website. In fact, not a lot can be said for many public library websites that I went digging around on.

To their credit, IMCPL’s website is quite functional. So much so, it’s pretty obvious it was designed by developers. It’s all there, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself getting irritated by things on their site. And, I bet they’ve done quite a bit of work to support ADA guidelines, too.

The current site

Website Nightmares: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library 1

They’re some key things I don’t care for:

  • The image slider has 7 slides to it that all scroll too fast. Probably because they were trying to show people all the content, but it makes it hard to read. I did away with it all together.
  • The page, as in where the content actually exists among all that blue, is small. It feels very cramped.
  • The colors are clearly straight from a committee. I don’t think IMCPL really has any serious feelings toward their marketing colors, at least from what I see. In fact, I don’t really see them doing any marketing, which is a shame because a majority of this city has probably never used their branch library (I have a book about Pixar on my desk now and a book of notes from Mitch Daniels on the way from the Irvington branch).

The Redesign

Here now, is my redesign work in under 60 minutes (my standard redesign period for these little experiments):

Website Nightmares: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library 2

Known Issues & Other Thoughts

  • Maybe there needs to be a way to login to your account on the homepage. I didn’t put it there because I suspect they probably have issues with people signing in at the libraries, on public computers, and forgetting to sign off. It’s a feature, not a bug.
  • I’m not satisfied with the location of the RSS / Bookmark / Facebook / Twitter buttons. They were an afterthought after I noticed they actually have those things listed on the current site in teeny tiny text in the footer.
  • I split up the image slider by just putting images around on the site. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not.
  • Yes, the logo is blurry. I wanted it bigger but obviously don’t have access to an EPS of it. And, I’ll add one real personal thought: I’ve never seen a more unimaginative logo for such a large, public-facing organization.
  • I thought these colors were relatively more inviting and warmer, as if you wanted to go read after seeing them. There’s some texture built in that’s probably hard to see on the screenshot, too. The texture lends to the appearance of paper.
  • The bookmark motif on the left side of the page is interesting, I think. Part of me wouldn’t mind seeing some depth to the design to make it look like it’s on a stack of papers in a book, but I decided not to push my luck (or time).
  • They actually have more room now. Quite a bit, actually. They could insert more new movies, books, downloads, etc. to feature in the middle of the page or re-arrange some items to fill the thing with new arrivals, al-la Amazon.
  • When you hover over a page name in the menu on the left, a little highlighter mark appears underneath on the hover state.

As always, you can vdownload and view the source in native PNG format.

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Justin has been around the Internet long enough to remember when people started saying “content is king”.

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2 thoughts on “Website Nightmares: Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library”

  1. I have seen that, although I haven’t actually used it. Arguably, the number one thing people do on the site is check out books and place holds and that’s probably the most cumbersome experience.

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