Friday, March 9, 2012

Creating a great Teen website: an example and some tips

If you are a school or public library, you can't ignore the fact that teens are online. A lot.  And honestly, you need to create a situation for yourself where you have a dynamic and continually updated web presence committed to teens.  Fear not, I found a really great example at Girls in the Stacks.



I recommend opening a second tab and toggling back and forth as we discuss what is great about Girls in the Stacks.  Go ahead, I'll wait . . .

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Notice their tagline: Review. Discuss. Laugh. With us.

Here, they invite viewers to become participants in the process.  They use action verbs, and highlight that it is going to be fun.  They are extending a personal invitation and it makes it clear that this is a fun, special place that you don't want to miss out on.

Variety of Formats

As you scan through the posts you find written posts, podcasts and video casts.  A lot of them are fun and silly.  By using a variety of formats, they appeal to a variety of types of people.  This is also a great way to get your teens involved; you can have them create and star in your content.  They can provide written book reviews, make book trailers and video casts, or even their own podcasts.  And as you know, when you involve teens in the process you create buy in and move them from thinking of "the library" to thinking of "my library".  Your teens will always be your best promotional tool.

Distinct, Recurring Features

Part of what makes a website work is having distinct features with predictable labels.  Here you see the Girls have "currently reading", "In the SPOTLIGHT", "from the STACKS" and "Book Buzz".  As these features build a reputation your teens will know to anticipate and look for them.  That is part of the reason why here at TLT we have "Quotable RA", "Book Reviews" and "TPIB".  As you build these distinct, recurring features they become destinations for your teens.


Other things to note:

They have a nice clean 2 column lay out that is visual and appealing, but also has enough white space to allow your eyes to rest.

They are relational in their presentation; they reveal themselves and allow you to become a part of their lives.  They have pictures and bios and boldly invite you to meet them.  By building that relationship they build followers.

They have a consistent design, color scheme, and lay out.  I can not stress enough the importance of consistency.

They make it easy to navigate.  We like a table of contents in books, and it is nice to see them online.  The only thing I would recommend is the addition of a tag cloud which works as a sort of index, but they do have tags on each post to help increase navigation so that's a bonus.

They make it easy for visitors to share by providing lots of buttons.  Buttons everywhere: follow them on Twitter or Facebook. Share individual posts. Share, share, share. Lots of buttons, lots of sharing = increased reach.

I met Stacy the other evening (did you hear, I went and saw Lauren Oliver!) and she is passionate about books.  We talked a little bit and she shared how time consuming it is to run and maintain this site.  They now have a team of 5 people.  But . . . this would be a great way to get your TAG involved, or students if you are a school librarian.

At the very least, you need to have some sort of web presence. And as much as you can with your staff time, skills and equipment you should make sure it is visually appealing, consistent and updated frequently.  Without a doubt you want to add book reviews and covers.  And of course, make sure it easy for your teens (and you) to share via multiple platforms.  Don't just have a web page, share and promote it by sharing links via your various social media sites.  And yes, you should have a YA Facebook and Twitter page as well.  And now, Pinterest.  View my previous article on Pinterest for ways in which you can use it to promote your library.

And yes, I know we don't have some of those cool things that I just said you should have at TLT but -hello - party of 1.  But keep tuned in, you never know what we are going to do around here!

Have other good examples of teen pages to share? Please provide a link in the comments.  I am always looking for things to steal. Um, I mean, borrow - cause I'm a librarian and we borrow.

4 comments:

  1. Wow, we are so honored!!!!!

    Thank you so much for all the positive comments, we <3 you!!

    This has made our day!

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  2. Wow - thanks for all the kind words!!!

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  3. I am only speaking the truth. I spent the weekend making some changes on my blog based upon what I said so you know I really meant it :)

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  4. What a great post! I just recently found this site as a part of an assignment to seek out library blogs that we enjoy and report back on why. Yours is by far my favorite that I have come across and I only wish you were my local library. lol. Great tips.

    I have a personal book blog and also created a children's blog and agree it can be extremely time consuming. I'm curious if this is a part of your day to day activities or is it in addition to those?

    As for other sites I really enjoy GalleySmith although she has recently taken on two co-contributors. What I enjoy most about Michelle's reviews is she includes a "Teachable moments" blurb about issues the book can serve as a discussion tool such as talking about suicide, drinking, etc.

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