ALA retreat yields phased plan for Web site improvements

Contact: Rob Carlson
ALA Web Development Manager
For Immediate Release
January 16, 2007

ALA retreat yields phased plan for Web site improvements

(CHICAGO) American Library Association (ALA) members and staff who met in a Web planning retreat in mid-December have developed a staged plan for creating the next generation ALA Web site. Retreat participants reviewed the results of the ALA usability assessment, based on feedback from about 1,200 people who responded to an online survey and participated in the usability study.

The first round of changes will begin in the first quarter of 2007 and will tackle areas identified as high-priority in the usability assessment and by participants at the retreat:

* Pull together blogs, wikis, RSS feeds, podcasts and discussion lists into a new “Read Write Connect” page;

* Add committee volunteer information to create a “get involved” page

* Pull together and increase the visibility of information on library education and careers

* Pull together and increase the visibility of “frequently asked questions” pages developed by the ALA Library in response to member requests

“Our recent member survey told us that more people are going to our Web site and that we’ve made significant progress in making the site easier to use. It also told us that we’ve still got work to do,” said ALA Executive Director Keith Michael Fiels. “ALA Web users will begin to see changes right away, leading up to some preliminary designs for review by members during and following the Annual Conference, and a complete redesign following Annual Conference based on member input. In the meantime, we’re working on creating a new ‘Web editor’ to maintain and improve the site on an ongoing basis.”

By June, a number of high-priority fixes will be made to improve navigation and information architecture, including graphical recasting of home page content to provide more prominence to weekly spotlight items. Google search results also will be modified to assure users that they are searching ALA content and have not left the ALA site. Work will begin on creating flyouts and dropdowns on high-level navigation items. Members should be able to preview the preliminary redesign at the ALA Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., and provide feedback on various redesign options.

Using feedback from the conference, the final stage of activity will be completing the redesign and creating permanent mechanisms for testing and improving usability on an ongoing basis. Long-term goals include increasing interactivity and customization options, revamping the “Join ALA” and “Professional Tools” sections and creating a section for new members.

The Web usability assessment and additional information from the retreat can be found online at