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City of Cockburn Libraries website redesign project - A guest post by Lawley Yukich #blogjune

At the recent Library Board of Western Australia Award for Excellence presentation, City of Cockburn Libraries received a Highly Commended award for our website redesign project. Here is a brief overview of the project.   

Virtually a library
The goal of our website redesign was to develop a virtual branch that creates a comparable experience for people visiting online to those physically visiting the library by replicating (sort of) key experiences: meeting staff (staff avatars & mini-bios on each post),  browsing displays of new books (bookwalls), choosing stuff from the recently returned shelves (What’s everyone else borrowing?), and listening to author and information talks (Youtube videos & event audio recordings).
Along with the existing website, the library already had a few other online outlets, with a couple of blogs (one for kids and one for everyone else) and our social media channels. The new website needed to bring all these elements together, along with library website staple - the online catalogue, as well as access to ebooks and other digital content. We wanted to continue to expand our social media audience by directing more library members to these channels from the library website, as well as using social media to connect people back to the library. 

Wordpress or bust
We had to develop the site on the cheap, using existing library staff expertise so we decided that Wordpress would be the best option; it is open source CMS and templates can be purchased inexpensively. With the old website, content could only be managed by the couple of staff who could code HTML; moving to WordPress meant that now more members of staff are able to manage the structural side of the site, making website management much more efficient. In the end it only cost about $150 to buy all the bits for the site – domain / wordpress template / social media plugin, then it was just (lots of) staff time from then on.
Using Wordpress gave us the opportunity to make our blogs front and centre on the website. With the previous stand-alone blogs it was difficult to get staff involved in contributing content. With the blogs being one step (or one click) removed from the old website, some staff saw this as a disincentive to contribute, feeling that their posts were not given enough attention to justify the work involved. Now that staff are able to see their work featured prominently on the library website, they are much more motivated to provide content.

It is funny I like the dinosaurs” - Public (and staff) engagement.
In its first year of being (up to March 2015), the library website had a 45% increase in visits over the last year of the old site, which highlights just how much the redesign was needed. There is  also now over double the number of staff contributing content to the website; where only 10 staff members had posted to the old blogs, we now have 25 staff members posting to the new website. More varied content has meant more people commenting on posts on the website and on facebook, so, while not massive numbers by any means, we are increasing online engagement, and people are liking what we are posting.
The comment quoted above is from this post

Lawley Yukich. Technology Coordinator at City of Cockburn Libraries

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