The UofW library homepage has a nice clean design that fits in a single screen (on my desktop computer, I haven’t checked it on the netbook). In the bottom left of the page there’s a bubble titled “What’s New” where they’ve got links to RSS feeds for new material, News & Events, plus Twitter (and Facebook) links. They use the standard Twitter icon (accompanied by the slightly generic term “Library on Twitter”) so it’s easily recognizable. Top marks for findability (at first, keep reading for the confusingness).
Usability-wise, when you click on that “Library on Twitter” link you’re directed to the library’s twitter profile, which is on the Twitter site, so really, any usability problems here fall on Twitter’s shoulders. That said, the library doesn’t really prepare the user for what to do with their Twitter page. There’s location information up at the top, and a profile image (of a building, which is kind of frowned upon in social media circles), and the standard “Follow” button just below. All of this is pretty standard Twitter stuff, but there hasn’t been much effort to hold anyone’s hand here.
I was going to complain about the integration of Twitter into the website since clicking that link takes you away, but then I poked around a little more. I’m not sure if it’s clever or confusing, but remember how I mentioned links to RSS feeds in the “What’s New” section? Turns out the News & Events link (which has the standard orange RSS icon) is a link to the library’s Twitter feed, but integrated into the website. So it’s good they’re reusing the information I guess, but why have two links to the same thing? Especially since there is a Library News page, where the UofW posts being linked to in the Twitter feed also show up. It’s all a little confusing.
The actual content of the Twitter feed seems useful. They post things about new books, upcoming talks, and retweet a few things from other departments at the university. I like that it’s not all just press releases. There are some funny library videos being linked to, and in the summer they used the #folkfest hashtag to highlight some ways to prepare for the music festival. One thing it doesn’t appear they’re doing is using the Twitterfeed for conversation with their users. It’s very broadcasty.
My suggestion for the library would be to change the structure around a little. I’d make the “Library on Twitter” link go to the page that pulls from the Twitter page because then it’s keeping the users next to the library’s services. They can still follow the library if they click further. After doing this I’d change the “News & Events” link to point to the actual news from the UofW library page. Engaging more with users would be difficult if no one’s talking to you, but they’re doing a good job of posting interesting material, so maybe things’ll catch on eventually.