Going Green - Transforming a Library’s Web Site, Reducing Dependency on Print


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I wrote this article for the first green case study publication from PRNews. The book, Going Green: Case Studies in Outstanding Green Business Practices, features my work, Transforming a Library’s Web Site, Reducing Dependency on Print, in chapter six, Nonprofits and Government Organizations.

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Going Green - Transforming a Library’s Web Site, Reducing Dependency on Print

  1. 1. Volume 1 Going Green: Case Studies in utstanding Green Business Practices Published by the Media/Communications Group of Access Intelligence PR News • min • CableFAX
  2. 2. CHAPTER 6 NONPROFITS AND GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS: CASE STUDIES Transforming a Library’s Web Site, Reducing Dependency on Print B M G Libraries Manager—Marketing and Web Broward County Library B roward County Library is a leading library system with 37 library locations including an eight-story Main Library in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., five 70,000 square-foot regional libraries and joint-use facilities with local universities. The library was named Library of the Year in 1996 by Library Journal and Gale Research; however, Broward County Library’s Web site had little presence, with low utilization by customers. In 2004, Broward County Library began to redesign its Web site. Instead of a just a Web page with a few links, the decision was made to give the Web site a customer-centric role, offering information and content to build a relationship with its customers. A new plan for the Web site was developed with three major focus points: Direct information Content on Web site to replace print collateral Growth through standard measurements An organization’s Web site must provide the information that the customers need and want, and the customers that visit the Web site should leave with an exceptional impression. Since the overall image of the library system would be negatively impacted if customers could not find out what they needed on the Broward County Library Web site, basic information about customer needs was added to the library’s Web pages. The traffic of those Web pages was carefully monitored and the best-performing pages continued to develop and grow. Additional features and special projects highlighted the library’s services and special events. The second major focus of the development plan was to reduce the library’s dependency on print Taking a green approach to marketing was determined to be a perfect fit, since libraries can share materials and reduce use of duplicate resources that impact the environment. materials. Flyers, bookmarks, and brochures cluttered the libraries and wasted dwindling budgets. Taking a green approach to marketing was determined to be a perfect fit, since libraries can share materials and reduce use of duplicate resources that impact the environment. The third area of focus was to determine what measurements would be used for a baseline and to track potential success. The following measures, with a monthly submission deadline, consisted primarily of: 124 www.prnewsonline.com
  3. 3. GOING GREEN: CASE STUDIES IN OUTSTANDING GREEN BUSINESS PRACTICES Number of electronic visitors and page views Number of downloads for the library’s monthly magazine, Bookings, in a .pdf version The library’s Web site was relaunched with a new look and more information. Online visitor traffic began to grow. The library promoted the Web site with zero budget dollars. The URL was included in all print pieces and press releases. An internal marketing plan to draw customers to the Web site was implemented. More and more Web pages were developed that obtained free search optimization results, which resulted in driving traffic to the library’s Web site. The most significant results were the increase of the library’s electronic visitors and page views. Over the four-year period, the traffic increased from less than 40,000 electronic visitors per month to more than 300,000 per month. The page views also dramatically increased, as more information was made available to customers. The site increased it page views by more than 300 percent in three years. The library’s online magazine, Bookings, was made available in a .pdf version on the library’s right navigational bar. The goal was to reduce the number of magazine printed, which costs around a quarter to produce. In 2004, less than 2,000 copies were downloaded each month. In FY 2006, a total of 275,629 issues were downloaded online—a savings of almost $72,000. In FY 2007, 339,832 issues were down- www.prnewsonline.com 125
  4. 4. CHAPTER 6 NONPROFITS AND GOVERNMENT ORGANIZATIONS: CASE STUDIES loaded—saving almost $90,000. In FY 2007, the printed version was reduced by thousands of issues each month to reduce costs. Broward County Library transformed its Web site from just a simple Web page into a complex Web site offering customers information through channels that targeted the most popular pages and informa- tion. The library’s Web site has become a staple for customers. The Web site has become a focus point to communicate with customers with an E-Newsletter, E-Updates, and E-Invitation added. CONTINUING TO GROW The library developed a new Check Out Being Green campaign to help promote the Web site to untapped market segments. The campaign promotes how customers can use their local library to reduce their impact on the environment. The Check Out Being Green campaign allows the library to come full circle with a Web site that can support customer needs.PRN Tips for Online Success 1. Don’t waste months planning every facet of a new Web site. You could be actually testing your new site and meeting customer needs. The greatest advantage to online media is that it is online. Changes can be made in seconds without any wasted printing or costs. 2. Take risks. Be willing to test new ideas and features. The success of these features can be tracked through page views and electronic visits. If a new feature does not work, it can be taken down or replaced immediately. 3. You can never communicate too well with customers. If a Web page has too much information, you can break it down with links to additional pages. Be cautious as to the format and flow of information. The pages should look appealing and not be just text. Many people edit information and remove valuable data. Ask Your Customers Take the time to survey your customers and ask for feedback. Customers will share their input with you and feel valued. Below are examples of how Broward County Library sought feedback: Annual survey—Ask you customers what they think online. Customers will take the time to give you your opinion and you can open up future communications by asking them to sign up for electronic mailings. E-Suggestion Box— Customers want to make comments and suggestions. Broward County Library offers an E-Suggestion Box so that customers can communicate or refer suggestions of new materials: http://www.browardlibrary.org/web/esuggestion.htm E-Newsletter— Through electronic communications, take the time to ask your subscribers what they want and how to best improve communications. Broward County Library transformed its E-Newsletter into a nationally award-winning publication: http://www.browardlibrary.org/enewsletter/ Let Your Voice Be Heard—In 2007, Broward County Library let customers select the name and logo for a new online portal, My Library Online. Customers also gave feedback as to what features they wanted and how the page should be set up: http://www.broward.org/library/mylibrary.htm 126 Reprinted from the PR News Going Green: Case Studies in Outstanding Green Business Practices Guidebook. © 2008 Access Intelligence, LLC www.prnewsonline.com