Mobile Tips, Research and Practices

103_0560Mobile Usability: Tips, Research, & Practices

Jim Hahn, Michael Sauers, Christa Burns

Michael up first

Things people don’t realize what they can do with their mobile phones. Believe it or not everyone doesn’t have a iPhone.

Christa has old fashioned cell phone a lot of users have it – Google SMS – send them a question they will answer back as a text message Google’s web site is wrong – take off the 3 or E

SMS via email – have patrons send you a text message but it goes to your email address – send you ref. question you can answer back – limit to 160 characters (20 more than Twitter),  other companies will send follow up messages so they get more than 160 charc. but depends on cell phone carrier, they texted but you received email.

Michael next – smart phone w/web browser of varying quality, make sure you have unlimited data plan, can text Amazon now – can pull up and confirm if book is cheaper at the store you are in or Amazon and order it if it is,  LibraryThing mobile – if you are in bookstore login and search your own collection to see if you own it, mobile wikipedia – full article reformatted, easy navigation so you don’t have to scroll – can jump, eBuddy – lite messenger – way to IM on smart phone, Google Maps – home screen you can have a Google Search bar – including street view of Google Maps (too cool) – driving public transit or walking views (wow love that), Barcode generators online – outputs jpeg – and you have a copy of your Border’s card, library card (self checkout), grocery, no longer have to worry when they wear out or rub off.

Jim is up – Mobile Informatics  ut oh he interacts with teens we adults scare him (not really).

Dual boot iPods – has Linux on it.  Cool!


Give Me Libraries or Give me Amazon

Everyone is entitled to their opinions. Be they right, wrong or somewhere in between. Only caveat I would recommend is when you air an opinion you make sure that you stop and think it through. Recently someone using the username Freemarket commented on a post by Amy De Groff on Open Source – Library Life on the Bleeding Edge. I will agree with this person partially as it is true that commercial sites like Amazon have been able to provide features that library ILS or catalogs haven’t yet been able to do. However, I would like to point out that Amazon, and other commercial sites, have very different goals, missions and visions than libraries.

However, this person’s statement “I would much rather have lower taxes and no libraries than have the government steal my money and purchase books that I don’t even want. Compared to Amazon, libraries are a joke.” just didn’t sit right with me. Last time I checked the library wasn’t for one person but for all. I understand that their taxes are going to buy items perhaps that tthey don’t like, want or deem worthy. However, I’m would say there has to be at least 1 item in 262,600 titles that they care about. No one ever said that 100% of your taxes would be spent solely on programs, initiatives or things that you value. If so, then my taxes wouldn’t have gone to fund the War in Iraq and many other things that I don’t approve.

You have the right to spend your money as you see fit (purchase). You also have the right to have your taxes spent as you see fit by voting into office the people who feel as you do. You even have the right to air your opinions. However, you do not have the right to expect that 100% of your taxes will be spent on 100% of the areas that mean the most to you.

Libraries provide a lot more good to the community than Amazon does. When is the last time Amazon educated a child? helped someone recently laid off to find a job? helped a teen with homework? provide free access to all information? or many other wonderful services the library provides?

More than skin, skin, skin, skin deep

Title is a nod to Crack the Sky‘s “Skin Deep”.

Ah, beauty is a thing to behold. Beauty, they say, is only skin deep. Well “they” are wrong. In this case the real beauty is more than skin deep.

On May 28th at 5:30 am, Howard County Library launched their brand spanking new web site.

A much cleaner style, easier navigation than our previous site, quick easy pop-up contact forms as well as integration of Amazon and Google maps makes this something to behold. But what most people don’t get to see is it’s inner beauty. Danny Bouman our web programmer/architect/code monkey extraordinaire wrote the whole backend that we use to actually add the content to the web site.

Deep down this baby really rocks. He wrote the admin side to make it easier for our Marketing/Public Relations and Human Resources departments to add information. These folks are wizards at their jobs but most of them have no html, css, or php experience. Now they can add pages, put up front page blurbs (that highlight our classes & events), and add job openings with ease.

As someone who brought over content from the old site to this one I can attest to how easy and beautiful the backend is. I am extremely proud of what our web programmer has done. Many can’t see the real beauty but that doesn’t take away from the skin deep beauty of the site. WordPress has a quote “Code is poetry” so I’ll borrow that and add “Code is beautiful poetry”.

Note: And for those who want to know, yes – it is open source. We hope to have it out and available to the open source community sometime soon. If you can’t wait and want the source contact me and I’ll put you in touch with Danny.