The Town of Richmond, Vermont, has taken an innovative approach to updating its web presence. Ecopixel has just launched the new Richmond Free Library site, about a month after the town’s newly redesigned website.
The town and the public library use the same content management system and design framework on their newly revamped websites. In most small towns, the municipal website and the library website are in completely different systems with disparate designs. The Richmond approach provides continuity between the websites and improves recognition of the library as a town department. A shared system also encourages collaboration and collective know-how among town staff.
The new Richmond Free Library website has its own unique color palette, navigation, and content, but is recognizable as a branch of the main Richmond town website.
The library staff reported several issues with their previous WordPress site:
- difficult to add pages to navigation
- required external services like an embedded Google Calendar
- lacked ability to sign up for library e-news updates
- looked more like a blog than a website
- the call to action to “Donate” was not prominent
- the KOHA catalog service branding colors did not match the site
- did not identify the library as a department of the town
The new website created by Ecopixel solves all these problems and provides editors with an extremely flexible system to update and improve the site.
The site uses the TYPO3 CMS (content management system) that makes it easy to add pages, rearrange pages, and rearrange navigation menus. It is as easy as dragging and dropping a page from one location to another in a "page tree” that looks like a site outline.
The website has a built-in calendar that enables categorization of library events so users can drill down to what most interests them. The calendar function has numerous built-in views to display events. On the library's home page, the next three upcoming events are displayed. On the calendar page, the whole month's events are displayed. The user may also click forward to future months or filter the calendar by youth or adult programs.
The library sends regular email news updates to their subscribers. The new site seamlessly imports new subscribers into their email system with a prominent button to sign up on every page.
The old WordPress site had a distinctively blog-like feel. The home page was a series of news posts. The new site’s home page has clearly delineated the news from the other content of the site. Popular library services like Hoopla and Libby for digital content access are featured on the home page.
A public library depends on funding from many sources. It is important to provide a clear path for visitors to support the library. The new site uses an icon at the top of each page to direct users to donate to the library. Icons also give prominence to the library’s calendar of events and access to the online catalog.
Richmond’s online library catalog uses a service called KOHA that is popular with many Vermont libraries. We worked with the staff at Richmond Free Library to match the catalog colors with the new site. This enables users to be confident that they are still interacting with a library-affiliated site.
The Town of Richmond site and the Richmond Free Library sites link intentionally and openly to each other so they are seen as part of the same overall entity and their design reflects this.
Permissions in the content management system can be granularly controlled so the library only sees their own content and not the content of the entire municipal site. All municipal staff, regardless of department or access level, can share expertise and knowledge of the system with each other.
The town reduces costs by giving a library, or another municipal department, full control of their own web content while utilizing a singular, overarching website system. The town does not have to maintain separate systems. It also makes sense from a branding/awareness point of view.
Ecopixel has a history of successful municipal website redesigns, support and ongoing maintenance. Another municipal website project is in the works. Stay tuned!