The New York Public Library’s new website provides a number of enhancements geared towards helping you discover, connect and get inspired at NYPL.org.
Why is the Library introducing a new site?
As the Library itself developed and introduced new services, its site became more complex, and there were limits to its flexibility. It was time for a streamlined update making it much easier for users to find what they need and enhancing the services available. Additionally, the Library wanted to take advantage of technological advancements that simplify the management of its site, make it easier for a wider range of staff to contribute their voices, and facilitate future growth. The new site also reflects the themes of the Library’s recently introduced mission statement, to: inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.
What is new and noticeable about the site?
1) Easier to Use
The site has been completely redesigned based on research indicating what users want.
Analysis shows that 25% of all searches of nypl.org are for basic information including library hours and borrowing procedures. So “Using the Library” was created as one of the eight core navigation items at the top of each page. The entire site is much more streamlined and easy-to-navigate based on what research tells us users want.
A consistent structure across all its pages will allow users to quickly become familiar with navigating the site. The Library’s home page has been greatly simplified. It now introduces the eight core navigation items, highlights the themes of the Library’s new mission statement, and promotes selected services and events.
2) Staff Voices
NYPL staff expertise will be leveraged more than ever, with record numbers of staff now able to post information, as well as tag posts with keywords highlighting connections within our vast resources, that only they know.
A librarian blogging about the origins of Christmas can link that page to Charles Dickens’ original, hand-marked prompt book for his public readings of A Christmas Carol.
3) Enhanced Search
Searching the library’s rich online content is much simpler and provides more relevant results.
Previously, if you conducted a search on a topic like Edgar Allan Poe, you would land on a page asking you to choose if you wanted to look at results from the Digital Gallery, from archival materials, or from other categories. In the new site all relevant information relating to Poe will come up in one set of results and can then be refined even further with filtering options.
4) Access to Librarians and Collections
A link to “AskNYPL,” where users can immediately reach a librarian with any type of query, is for the first time available on every page of the site. And “AskNYPL” is now the first stop for users trying to find materials in specific library research collections.
If you are looking for historic photographs of Broadway plays but don’t know if they would be in the Photography Collection or Billy Rose Theatre Collection, a query to “Ask NYPL” will connect you to the right division. It is no longer necessary to search across the web site to find the right collection.
5) Open Source Platform
The Library’s new site is built on Drupal, an open source programming platform, recently adopted by the White House and utilized by a broad online community. Drupal allows the Library to draw from existing software enhancements and also to contribute innovative solutions that it creates for nypl.org that can then be used by other libraries and organizations.
The library’s calendar module might be one that would be made available to other organizations using the Drupal platform.
How was the new site created?
The design and structure of the new site was created based on a detailed understanding of users’ needs.
Conversations with staff and stakeholders
The web site’s development team met with staff from nearly all library departments, including public service and administrative staff, to learn about their key audiences and understand the needs of their divisions.
User analysis and research
The Library conducted extensive assessment and research, including analysis of usage patterns on the current site; online usability tests, which generated 100,000 responses from 11,000 users; one-on-one in-person evaluations; and numerous other studies. From these studies determinations were made about such features as the specific order of navigation links, language used to label links on the site, and whether or not certain stand-alone links were needed or not.
How do I report problems or bugs during the preview period?
There is a link for feedback at the top of each page of the preview site. Additionally, feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the future of www.nypl.org?
Until now the Library’s web site has gone through a cycle of major re-designs. The new site will evolve through a philosophy of continual development. The January 6 launch will lay the groundwork for an ongoing evolution and expansion of nypl.org with new features and improvements being made continually.