Tips for Setting up a Successful Medical Library Website

Research | May 22, 2019

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Understand the best practices of setting up a medical library website to help increase usage of resources and help drive clinical research forward.

Understanding the dos and don’ts of your medical library website can help increase usage of resources and help drive clinical research at your medical institution forward. Here are six suggestions to help your medical library website provide an intuitive research experience from the experts at Stacks.

Don’t Just “Wing” the Planning of Your Medical Library Website

The first thing your medical library should do is complete a web design project plan. This ensures there is alignment among all involved and that clear roles and timelines are established. The template will serve as the project framework and ensure that your website transition and launch will be executed efficiently.

Don’t Clutter

Your medical library has a lot of information and resources to offer. The challenge is getting researchers to that information quickly. It can be tempting to try and put lots of information and resources on the homepage of your medical library website, although too much detail can feel overwhelming to users. Information Architecture is one way to organize the information on your website so it can be easily found and accessed by your users. Information Architecture includes menu items, categories of information, where content can be placed on your website, and the words you use to define the content (vocabulary). These simple steps can help your team organize information in an effective way.

  1. Think about the mission and goals of your organization. Review your strategic plan or plan of service.
  2. Make an inventory of content currently on your site.
  3. Define your user groups — who uses your site and what kind of tasks do they perform on the site?
  4. What would you like to add to your website? Do you have any new services or resources that you would like to promote?
  5. Review any analytics that you can access. Which features of your current website get the most usage?

Your medical library website should be able to easily integrate all content and technology to assist in the search of content. Content including subscription services, open content, original content, proprietary collections and institutional repositories should all be easily integrated into your website.  

Don’t Include Technical/Library-ease Language

People tend to scan rather than read on the web. Make sure that you are matching this intent with the copy on your medical library website. Using clear, concise, action-oriented language will connect researchers to the right areas on your website and will also ensure that any users on mobile devices will have a consistent experience as those on a desktop.

Do Start with a Visually Appealing Medical Library Website

Chose visual elements for your medical library website that relate to your medical institution's brand and/or logo. Colors, fonts and images should match or complement your brand style. Limit the number of colors to create consistency in the visual. The strategic use of white space on your site ensures that your library website is readable and quickly scannable. White space adds balance to the page and allows users to concentrate on the content. The hierarchy of content on the page shows the importance of information. Hierarchy is demonstrated by font size, colors, and placement on the page, with the most important content generally at the top of the page.

Do Ensure That Content, Discovery and Authentication Can Be Easily Integrated

Your medical library website should be able to easily integrate all content and technology to assist in the search of content. Content including subscription services, open content, original content, proprietary collections and institutional repositories should all be easily integrated into your website. If you utilize a discovery platform, that should also be an element which can easily be integrated into your library website. Serving researchers a clear starting point with a search box will ensure usage and match their user experience expectations.

Do Have an Easy-to-Use Administrator Dashboard

Making an easy front-end experience should not require a laborious “administrator” experience. Look for a web-based library platform that offers an intuitive administrative dashboard. For example, drag and drop elements allow for quick changes to your website that do not require coding (on your end). In addition, all main elements of your medical library website should be clearly displayed for anyone on your team to access. The fluidity of the administrator dashboard is key to ensure that your library website runs like a well-oiled machine.

The direction and strategy of your medical institution depend on the research that drives it. Stacks is a web-based content management system used to build, manage and host a dynamic research portal, empowering you to create a robust user experience through unique integrations and exclusive functionality. Download the complimentary brochure to learn more.

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