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Resources for SJSU Librarians

Tools, Design Principles, and Maintenance Practices

Best Practices for Designing LibGuides

Here are some tips on design and content organization on subject guides and course guides (Best Practices for Creating LibGuides)

Design Content Organization

Standardize look and feel across your guide

Keep all of your text concise, both linguistically and visually

Colors and fonts should be the same across your guide     

Use natural language and avoid library jargon (i.e. a link that says “borrow from other libraries” instead of “interlibrary loan”)

The way links behave (do they open in a new window, a new tab, or the same tab?) should be agreed upon across and within guides

Paragraphs themselves should be quite short—around 20 words per sentence and five or fewer sentences per paragraph

Major content items like librarian contact information and chat widgets should be in the same place on each page

Don’t let your lines of text span across the entire webpage—this is very hard to read! The default column widths in LibGuides are a good size

Style and grammar choices (i.e. formality, use of the Oxford comma) should remain consistent across guides.

Structure the textual content of guides in the inverted pyramid or front-load format, used widely in journalism: the most important information at the top, and more detail further down the page

The entry points of your page—where readers’ eyes will land immediately (usually the top left corner)—are a good place to help direct readers using heavier elements such as bold text or images

Your guides should also be discoverable—use natural language keywords and tagging functions to make it easy for users to find your guides from the library homepage as well as Google or other search engines

Consider this popular page structure: navigational tools on the far left, main content on the mid-left, and the very most important things a third of the way to halfway across the page

Create ‘friendly’ URLs or use link text—use the LibGuides link boxes (this provides a lot of functionality) or create short URLs using a service like Google’s link shortener or bit.ly.  

Avoid large blocks of text, primarily by cutting back on content, but also by using lots of paragraph breaks and subheadings

Explore the reusable boxes function within LibGuides. This essentially lets you create content and reuse it across multiple guides, while only having to edit it in one place

 

It is recommended that at the beginning of each semester (or at least the beginning of the school year) you review all your research guides to check for dead links, broken images, and outdated info or resources. It is also a good idea to review your guides' organizational structure and hierarchy, to see if it still makes sense. 

Luckily LibGuides has a built-in link checker that can help you find broken or dead links, called Link Checker. For a breakdown on how to use Link Checker, and other asset managing tools native to SpringShare, see the LibGuides How-To Guide: Guide Maintenance

It's also a good idea to check your guide across multiple devices - a guide may look good on a computer, but on a tablet or phone screen becomes difficult to navigate. If you do not have additional devices to test on, shrinking and expanding your browser window can give a similar effect of how your guide will look on a smaller/narrower screen.


Other resources:

SpringShare Springboard Tutorials - Tidying up: tips for managing your guides, assets, databases, and images

LibGuides How-To Guide

This guide will help you create a libguide from scratch. It outlines all the features, how and when to use them. 

Most Popular SJSU Online Tutorials

The library's most popular online tutorials are here. You can embed them in your own libguides. 

Online Tools and Resources

A guide with various online tools suggested by SJSU librarians. You are welcome to suggest some of your own.

 

For help related to libguides and tutorials, contact:

Laurel Eby: laurel.eby@sjsu.edu

Lyna Nguyen: lyna.nguyen@sjsu.edu