Computers in Libraries | Building a Library Web Site on the Pillars of Web 2.0
A year and a half ago when I started as the head of libraries’ Web services, the University of Houston (UH) Libraries was undertaking a project to dramatically reshape its Web site. The site had been in a state of flux and it needed a new structure for both managing and organizing it. At the time, all content was passed through the Web services department before becoming part of the site. As a result, making updates was a time-consuming task and significant portions of the site were out-of-date. In addition, the site’s structure was rigid and inflexible and provided no space for staff or users to participate.
An informal needs assessment revealed that staff members wanted to control their own content and to have a way to make the site more engaging and interesting to their users. These desires were further fleshed out during focus groups concerning the development of the libraries’ strategic directions. Based on these different types of feedback, I realized the staff was looking for a Web site that was more “Web 2.0” in nature.
What is “Web 2.0” though? Web 2.0 is often defined by the technologies that are part of it: social software, Weblogs, linklogs, folksonomies, wikis, podcasts, RSS feeds, and Web services. Because of this, some see Web 2.0 as merely hype. However, if you examine the technologies to see what they have in common a pattern emerges. “Web 2.0” is transforming the Web into a space that allows anyone to create and share information online—a space for collaboration, conversation, and interaction; a space that is highly dynamic, flexible, and adaptable.
Further discussion and reading led me to design six pillars of Web 2.0 that we wanted to use as the foundation for rebuilding our library Web site. These six pillars are as follows:
1. Radical decentralization
2. Small pieces loosely joined
3. Perpetual beta
4. Remixable content
5. User as contributor
6. Rich user experience
A good read -- be sure to look it over!