[WEB4LIB] Feedback on css webpage sought

Alnisa Allgood alnisa at nonprofit-tech.org
Thu Jul 15 07:53:37 EDT 2004

At 11:43 PM -0700 7/14/04, Dominique Collins wrote:
>I am new to CSS for layout and want to design a
>non-table layout library website.  These 3 test pages
>are what I have come up with (with help from various
>useful css websites for the code).  It is very much a
>'work in progress'.
>I would like feedback (please don't be too brutal) on
>how it looks to other people.  Are there any glaring
>glitches?  Can anyone suggest any improvements?  I
>know it looks a bit funny in Netscape 4.

The older versions of Netscape and IE don't support stylesheets, a 
text message for users, indicating they should upgrade is consider 
standard, just create a hidden style in CSS, so it won't display on 
any browsers that support CSS.

I thought your stylesheet look nice and clean, and was fairly well 
laid-out. I might add groupings or section headers, so when you go 
back a year from now, you know, these are the items related to the 
page layout & structure, these are the items related to content, 
these items are for links, etc.  It  just a nice clarity thing.

My other items are more in regards to the look.  Your left sidebar 
navigation, needs to have the etxt start further from the border, 
some padding in the text style would allow for that.

Colors. I realize your duplicating the colors of the "Eye & Ear 
Hospital" logo, but I went back to their main site and noticed that 
even they don't use them. The point being, those are hard colors on 
the eye. Ironic chose for an Eye and Ear Hospital. I pulled the logo 
into FireWorks and had it optimize it's color palette. (see 
) It basically created 123 color variations.  I'd then use those 
variations with Eric Meyer's Color Blender at 

Anyway the point being, the colors need to be toned down a little, 
either by using a muted version of the color, or shading the side bar 
with a complimentary color. For example your using #00FFFF  for the 
links, when #ABABAB is a bit closer, and not as fluorescent. Though 
I'd technically chose the darker blue for the link, and possibly the 
lighter for visited links. I'd also might use #E8E8E8 or  #D7E3E3  as 
the sidebar background color.   The E8E8 is just a nice light grey. 
The D7E3 is a blend of a light grey with bright light blue, it 
creates a more muted but still light bluish grey. Also take a look at 
http://www.library.ucsf.edu/  they use some variations of your color 
scheme, but to much warmer effect.

The only other issue, strays away from CSS totally.  Your navigation 
is repeated in your main content area. Originally I was going to say, 
you might want to consider loosing the borders on the content boxes 
you design. And while this is still true, the real issue, seems to be 
the repetition of navigation. Since your redesigning, this might be 
the time to take the opportunity to use the front page to highlight 
things, like new items added to your catalog, or interesting 
reference material, items that may draw doctors, students, and 
fellows, back to to the library pages, more frequently. Obviously, 
they will come anyway, because they want access to PubMed and Medline 
and other services for free. But would they visit if they were just 
browsing the web, or just curious about a particular topic.

I've been thinking about this because I'm redesigning a site for an 
Information Resource Center. They add new resources semi-regularly, 
2-5 new items every 2-3 months (fact sheets, monographs, etc). But as 
I've been in discussions with them, I realize that they've laid out 
their website in a manner suitable for their current interactions 
with clients/users. With their resources, they always created a list 
of publications and products, they'd distribute the list to known 
service providers, and then providers would request materials. Their 
website reflects that paradigm.

When I look at most library sites, they also seem to reflect a 
similar paradigm. Our clients come in looking for books, periodicals, 
or reference materials. And their websites serve this up. And while 
many people never step into a library unless they need something, the 
fact is that tons of us do. I go to library to just wander around 
books, to see the postings of upcoming events, to find out what 
events or displays might be up in the library, to visit a special 
collection, or just because I'm bored, its Saturday, and the library 
is downtown, has comfortable seats, and if I decide I want a movie or 
food later, its a nice starting point, and besides even if I don't 
feel like touching a book, it has magazines, newspapers, and those 
new fangled computers.

For many people, the library is like a community center without the 
mandatory human interaction. You can go and lose yourself, or you can 
go and find someone or something that connects you. But most library 
web sites tend to focus in on the core historical purpose providing 
access to resources.

I've found clean, well-design library sites, and library sites with 
access to an amazing amount of materials, but I've yet to come across 
a library site that attempt to engage its community. Which I've 
always found strange, because obviously most libraries do attempt to 
do so, even if it's just with monthly displays.  I'm not say hide 
access to your primary resources. They should be front and center in 
the navigation. But why not use the main content are on the front 
page for, content. Highlight this collection, a particular book, a 
new resource, and old resource that people have forgotten about, 
introduce a staff person that people may want to know if they're 
researching this or that or wanting to learn how to use something, 
even a donated or on display piece of art. Make me want to come 
visit. Why not encourage me to explore your library?

Okay, enough with my diatribe. Really its not focused at your site 
particularly. I think you've made great inroads into CSS, it was just 
when I was going to suggest CSS alternatives for the borderlines, 
like  using headers, etc. That I become clear, well the borders do 
make sense because your cording of areas, etc., etc., etc.  The thing 
is I'm not likely to visit your library, primarily because its in 
Australia, but that said, if your front page had a blurb about a new 
article on how hearing effects balance or something, I might read it, 
and check out other recommendations, even though I'm not your target 

    Alnisa  Allgood
    Executive Director
    Nonprofit Tech
    (ph) 608.241.3616 (fx) 608.241.3709
    (url)  http://smart.nonprofit-tech.org
    (url)  http://www.nonprofit-tech.org
    (url)  http://www.tech-library.org
    transforming nonprofits through technology

More information about the Web4lib mailing list