Monday, April 9, 2007

Cookie cutter pages again...

I had a number of emails about the issue of library pages being forced to fit in standard templates, as discussed in my earlier posting. After posting about this to LM_NET, EDTECH and TLC, I received around twenty responses, in addition to the comments offered here. Many people reported that they had recently put up pages that were part of the school's framework, or that were offered by their library automation software. Several people said that they were specifically told NOT to use existing pages that they were designed and furthermore that they were not allowed to link to an original page posted elsewhere. I received quite a few messages from people who said things like: "Oh how in agreement I am about your discovery. I have sadly watched the demise of creativity and the development of template pages for several years now" and "I couldn't agree with you more! I designed and maintained my own web site at two different schools over a period of 9 years. Then, last year, my school decided to outsource our school website and everyone was put onto a standard template."

Several people did point out that, because they were at a independent or private schools, all web pages were considered marketing tools and thus were expected to have pages that were standardized to conform with all other school pages. Additionally, I did have one response from an individual who preferred the professional and clean look of template pages. She did not like very busy pages with large numbers of links, instead favoring pages that had a very clean, streamlined look. While I agree that pages should not be cluttered with extraneous images or distracting animations, I enjoy having pages that deliver a wealth of information all in one place. Here are some additional sites that were shared as a result of this posting:

Regardless of your choice/option for the pages you put up, there are several things everyone should remember:
1. Adhere to good basic design tenets. There are websites out there that can help you with this. In general, busy backgrounds, distracting images and sounds, flashing lights, etc. are not recommended.
2. Be mindful of safety when using student images and names. My opinion is that they should be avoided even if parents' permission is given.
3. Do not put up a page if you are not willing or able to keep it current, with working links.
4. If you MUST use a template, take it as far as you can with original ideas and features to make it unique.
5. For inspiration, visit outstanding library and educational websites.

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