Case Study

Indianapolis Public Library

Case Study

Challenge

Our team was challenged to create a mobile-first website for the Indianapolis Public Library, featuring seamless integrations with multiple third-party tools that patrons already use and expect — such as the catalog.

Solution

We created a new website with an updated sitemap, cleaner navigation titles, and revised content to better educate users on where and how to access the information they are seeking. This includes an updated integration with the library catalog, informational databases, and an events calendar. The website also features a robust search function for users who may want to see all results for their topic in one location.

With Craft CMS, we made it simple for the Indianapolis Public Library team to easily manage pages, content, and assets on their own.

Results

Our web service line produced a new website for the library that:

  • Improved overall website speed by 26%
  • Received a 48 point increase from HubSpot Technical Grader
  • Increased avg. time spent on page by 29.63%
  • Decreased avg. page load time by 2.17 seconds

Approach

A library is a place of discovery. When a person walks into a library, it is in pursuit of something — adventure, knowledge, opportunity, and so much more.

Since its founding, the Indianapolis Public Library has had a single, straightforward goal: to serve the public, enrich lives, and build communities through lifelong learning. For years, they have done this across 24 branches and a bookmobile. As our world grows more digital, it was time they had a website that could do the same.

For this project, we knew we had to create a seamless user experience with a powerful search feature. We wanted to do more than that, though. We wanted to infuse the new website with the same wonder, curiosity, and buzzing energy that stepping into a physical library inspires.

Brand

IndyPL came to us with an already established and recognized brand. Our team of UI/UX designers and front-end developers reviewed the multitude of options in the current brand to determine which primary and secondary colors would work best to become the focus for web and digital elements. We thoroughly tested these colors across a wide range of scenarios to ensure they would consistently pass accessibility standards.

In addition to style tiles and designs for the website itself, our team drafted a digital component guide for IndyPL to use in their digital marketing efforts. This guide provides instructions for consistent and cohesive use of colors, fonts, and other digital brand elements.

Search

As we began developing the new site, it became clear that there were opportunities to improve the site’s search function. Searching the catalog is the top priority for many of the site’s users. Thus, the search function is now the main focus of the site and is featured at the top of the homepage. Users can easily search for books, events, locations, and more from the moment they land on the site.

For the new library site, we integrated Algolia with Craft to create the most streamlined and robust search experience the library has ever had.

The new, Algolia-powered search function aggregates results from multiple databases into a single list. It features typo tolerance and gives users options to filter out irrelevant results. On the back-end, it allows website managers to customize search rankings.

CMS, Integrations, and Plugins

Of the many websites we’ve built over the years, few have required the number of integrations we needed to account for with the library website — including key APIs for the library catalog, Digital Indy, EBSCO Discovery Service, and the library events calendar, Communico.

To keep content up-to-date, we simplified back-end access so content authors can easily add modules and records. This helps the library’s staff keep content reflective of each library branch’s most current selection.

One of the third-party tools we used was BiblioCommons, which gives site users digital access to the full library catalog. We created a BiblioCommons "fieldtype" within Craft, so content authors can select a library catalog module to display on a page by selecting individual books, book lists, or galleries curated by librarians themselves.

We choose Craft as the CMS for this project due to the required number of integrations with third-party and proprietary tools. In addition to the custom integrations above, we used other common plugins such as:

  • Neo, which allows developers to set-up a content builder field, so library Craft users can construct their pages in the CMS using pre-built modules.
  • A&M Nav, which allows Craft users to create and edit navigation menus, making it simple for the library to manage multi-level navigation menus and other features such as breadcrumbs.
  • Visor, a TrendyMinds developed plugin, which makes content editing easier by allowing a Craft user to quickly jump to relevant control panel areas.
  • User Manual, which allows the library Craft users to review instructional content when they need a reminder on how to handle tasks or edits in the CMS. This plugin allows our team to create and edit these guides for our clients.
  • Workflow, which allows all Craft entry drafts to be aggregated into a section of the CMS for the library Craft users to easily access, provide feedback, and approve to publish.

Easy Database Access

Another key feature of the new site is seamless gated database access. Our team was challenged with granting appropriate access to the library’s many databases and online resources, some of which are restricted by location.

To keep users from getting confused and hitting walls, we manually granted access according to IP addresses by library location. And since not every branch offers access to every database, we custom coded the site to only grant access where designated, according to the library’s list of cleared locations.

This keeps the experience streamlined for every user, regardless of whether they’re automatically let in while they’re at a physical location or presented with a login page to gain access with their library credentials.

360-Degree Tour

Those who have been to the Central Library branch know that the space is an experience in itself. Our team wanted to take advantage of the branch’s many unique spaces and extend that experience to online users. Our web team, in collaboration with Think Ahead Studios, created a 360-degree tour to bring the in-person experience online.

We started with a 360-degree camera to take photos of the many rooms and wings of the Center for Black Literature & Culture (CBLC) at the Central Library. Then our in-house UX designers and developers collaborated to stitch the photos together to create seamless panoramas before developing and editing the tour in our CMS.

To enrich the user experience and provide more context, we added pop ups with information about different exhibits and collections available at the center. Users can roam around the space and view callouts to learn more about displays and spaces.

We made it easy for the library’s content authors to add new touch points and information callouts to the existing photos to keep the page current.

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