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Our New Website: Designed, Built, and Launched for our Patrons

You’re reading this post on a brand spankin’ new website! Launched in late June of 2021, the new natronacountylibrary.org hits all the high notes with how our patrons (and staff) access and use information about the Library.

The old natronacountylibrary.org was built many many years ago, with the most recent “facelift” happening in the winter of 2015 after the launch of our old (but new at the time) maroon “Into It” logo. The old natronacountylibrary.org was built before a majority of users were visiting the site on their mobile device, and well before we were offering many of the digital and online resources that have become staples today. Need a reminder of how bad it was? Here’s the old homepage:

In 2020, we realized it was finally time for something new and more functional; but you can’t just take what we had, slap some new colors on it, and call it good. We had to start from scratch. And if you’re going to do a major overhaul, it’s a good time to revisit other things, like branding, logo, colors, imagery, and more.

So that’s where we began. At the beginning of this year, we enlisted the help of a local creative agency, LUM Studio, to tackle the project. It started with an evaluation of our current brand, and an assessment of what we wanted out of something new. Learn more about the rebrand here.

Our old website was sorely lacking in imagery, especially pictures and images of the library itself. LUM helped us source a local photographer to come to the library on 2 separate occasions to capture everything that makes this place so wonderful – the people, the technology, the comfy reading spaces, the books and collection items, our Creation Station makerspace, storytimes, programs, and so much more. Many of those pictures now flow throughout the site so that you can see the space before you ever step foot in the Library. With quality photography of our library, people, and services, it was time to start the heavy lifting with the website.

Working with LUM’s web developer, we discussed our hopes and dreams for a new website. We had 3 main priorities: 1) A responsive website that works beautifully on both browsers and mobile devices, 2) an integration of our event management software so that patrons are able to see everything we have planned, as SOON as we plan it, and 3) an intuitive navigation so visitors can find what they need when they need it.

Mobile Friendly

Did you know that more than 40% of visitors to our website are browsing on a mobile device? That could be a smart phone, tablet, eReader, or many other options. That’s nearly half! Our old site had a clunky mobile experience that was most certainly an afterthought. There was a menu that didn’t even work on the old site, and one that covered up the Library’s logo by accident. We considered that pretty unacceptable, so that meant that our new site had to be designed with a “mobile first” mentality, meaning that the imagery, content, widgets, and other elements needed to work beautifully on a mobile device before we even considered how it would look/work on a browser. Check out the new site on your phone and let us know if we accomplished this!

Events Front and Center

We use an internal software called Libcal for managing all of our programs, events, and space bookings; and we needed this to automatically integrate with our website in a way that published important information for our patrons as soon as possible so that you can plan your visits accordingly. You can also register for many of the programs online, cutting out a former step in the registration process. Depending on the audience, you can now view our list of programs based on your age group – kids/tweens, teens, and adults—so that you’re only seeing what’s relevant to you. You can also filter by categories or browse by dates/months, and everything has associated imagery so you know exactly what we’ll be doing at each event.

How to Navigate the Site

Our navigation structure and overall website organization was sorely lacking on the old site, and we needed to find a better way to organize the information our patrons needed in a way that made it easy to find. How can you categorize and organize everything that a public library like ours does?

Simple. Our mission at the Natrona County Library is to advocate for literacy, education, and a thriving community. To deliver on this promise, we rely on three great resources—our staff, our collections, and our physical and virtual spaces. Those three pillars serve as the basis of our new website. Now you can find all the information you need regarding our collection, both physical and digital, under the “Borrow & More” drop-down. All of our services and programming/events provided by our truly amazing staff—both in-person and online—are broken down by age group (kids, teens, and adults) under the “Interact” drop-down. And everything you need to know to about the library as a space—including all the technology available for in-library use, our Creation Station, how to book meeting rooms, and more—is included under the “Visit” drop-down. You can get quick hitters from the “How To” drop-down, and learn more about everything we’ve got going on (including what we’re reading and recommending) by clicking on “Library Stories.” If you want to volunteer, donate, meet the staff, apply for a job, or give us a phone call, scroll allllllll the way to the bottom of the page for a bunch more info.

Want to search the catalog and to see what books we have available? Well, you can do that from every single page of the new website by simply typing keywords and phrases into the search bar at the top of the site. So easy!

None of this would have been possible without the support and funding from the Natrona County Library Foundation, who shared our vision and understood why this type of investment was worthwhile.

That’s all we have for you for now. We really want to hear your thoughts on the new site, so let us know if we put it all together in a way that makes your experience pleasant, easy, and cohesive. Thanks!!

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