This week I finally got around to reading the January 2011 issue of Library Journal. I really enjoyed Aaron Schmidt’s article “The Benefits of Less,” which discusses how library websites try to do too much. The basic premise is that more content requires more decision-making and time, while also complicating the website experience for users. Libraries should instead skim down their websites to only the most important and frequently used pages.
I couldn’t agree more. Although I’m the type of person who will scour a website or search engine to find the answer to my question (only if the answer doesn’t exist online will I contact a human being), I don’t think that’s the route most people take. My experience staffing IM reference and the circulation desk has shown me that the most frequently asked questions have answers available on our library website — but the homepage is so packed, no one wants to click through all the links to find where the answer is hiding. I feel the same way about most websites in general. There’s just too much.
Additionally, managing less content will probably lead to better quality. This quote in particular resonated with me:
It sounds simple, but the more things a library tries to do, the less attention it can devote to any one thing. Without the attention they deserve, web content and services can’t be as effective as they should be.
I guess it ultimately boils down to — do you want to do a lot of things that are only average, or do only a few things that are really awesome? I prefer awesome.
I should really apply this advice to my life.