The University of Lethbridge’s library website is a bit of a jumble. Though it has a three-column layout it’s heavily weighted towards the right hand side of the screen, where after a moment of scanning you’ll find the button saying “Follow Us on Twitter.” The problem with finding it is that it’s in the middle of a scattered bunch of links in the What’s New section. None of the buttons are the same size, there’s no visual separation between the buttons and the text above them. It’s design that doesn’t draw your eye to anything, so it would be very easy to lose your way.
The fact that it’s just a button that leads to the library’s Twitter profile doesn’t give the novice user on the library’s page much of an idea what Twitter is or why they might want to follow the library on it. On the Twitter profile page they use a standard Twitter background, and the icon is a picture of the library building, which doesn’t give the most personable (or branded) impression. Any usability problems here are more Twitter’s fault than the library’s, but if the user has any familiarity with Twitter, it all makes sense.
Twitter doesn’t seem to be particularly well-integrated into the rest of the library tools/services. It isn’t mentioned on the Contact Us page or in the RSS feeds section. The Twitter profile doesn’t show any address information beyond University of Lethbridge.
The library’s tweets are mostly about hours and other press release type information. This is useful when it comes to things like new databases, or system outages. The only detriment is the slightly sporadic nature of the tweeting. They tend to tweet every few days, which suggests that it’s not a completely reliable source of information for what’s going on. There isn’t much reason for the user to keep following the library between announcements, as they don’t post interesting links, or engage in much conversation. There’s not a lot of hashtag use and little to no retweeting, though the tone is conversational, which is good.
I would like to see a few posts integrated into the library’s main page. It’s an easy widget to install, and one that several other libraries use effectively. This gives the user on the main page a better idea of what’s going on even if they don’t want to be a full-fledged Twitterer. Cleaning up the What’s New section of the page would be useful in general. I would also like to see more regular tweeting to give the readers a bit more reason to stick with the feed. And if the tweets felt less like press releases that would be good.
The University of Lethbridge Library isn’t terrible in how it’s using Twitter, just not as effective as they probably could be.