CIL Notes: Designing the Digital Experience


Fine tuning should never be done by staff. Fine-tuning should be done by customers.

- David Lee King

David Lee King provided a strong overview of design theory and ways we can turn our digital presences from a static list of information into something that creates more of an experience for the user. The logic’s pretty simple – we’ve got people who already visit the library, so why not offer them something more that goes beyond simple lists of materials? The key is to given users some kind of avenue for participation, which helps to engender a much stronger level of ownership over the site. If we’re going to position the library as a centerpiece for the community, we’ve got to do more work in this direction.

I’m taken with the idea of putting “Easter Eggs” – similar to the hidden features that can be found on many DVD menus – in the library website. King did this at Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library by having the image of the library on the front page change with the time and/or the weather. Is everyone going to notice this? Of course not. But those who do get to feel like they’ve just forged a closer connection with the library, because they’ve “discovered” one of its secrets.

The presentation is based on his book bearing the same title. We’ve got it on order at MPOW, and I’m dying to read it. (You hear that, Acquisitions?)

Once again, raw notes are after the jump.

Designing the Digital Experience

David Lee King, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Experience: key subject

What is it?

Experience Economy, Joseph Pine

It’s not just about goods and services. It’s about the experience.

Contrast McDonald’s to Hard Rock Cafe

Connect exp. to design – “An approach to creating successful experiences for people in any medium.”

example: American Girl Place – store, museum-like displays, play, teatime w/doll, doll salon, Game Boys for boys to keep them from getting bored

Linked to the web experience

Harley-Davidson website: “It’s all about the experience.” Website mentions tons of stuff – but not buying a motorcycle

Paths to Experience: Three Concepts


Create a better experience by improving a website’s ease of use.

All the customer to achieve their goals quicker and more easily.

Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users blog

approaches to structure

1. Elements of User Experience, Jesse James Garrett


2. David Armano, Approach to Creating Experiences

3. Getting Real, 37signals (ebook)

“Fine tuning should never be done by staff. Fine-tuning should be done by customers.”

Building new site: met with each department to determine needs

Met with users to determine needs.

Look at your site with critical eyes. Think about the potholes.

Big goal: Don’t Make me Think!

Community Path

Create a memorable experience that encourages conversations both traditional and digital

Amazon: Digital community experience

Real conversations taking place – blogs, twitter, bulletin board

Invitation: passive and active invitations

Active: direct questions, invitations to participate

Content enablers: those that focus on making content compelling

Must be good writers, must make connections, must be quick.

Moderation of comments must be quick

Participation: Focus point for community-focused experiences

“The goal is not to have the customers interact with the form.”

Blog to provide personality – read our thoughts, and be introduced to library as a group of people

Telling our Stories: People want to know our story, and they want to know who we are.

Providing opportunities to continue the story

Twitter allows an experience of community. Facilitates answering questions. Back-channel conversations. Quirky facts

Livestreaming events – extending the reach outside the library

Connecting patrons online. Goal is not to use the cool new tool. What are the best tools for facilitating conversation and connection?

Customer path

Comfortable best at hotels

Sport Clips – just for guys hair salons- haircut is just a part of the experience

Digital versions: Webkinz, Starbucks, Whyville

“post-show” materials – focusing on the experience around the product.

Customer Journey Mapping

how do you improve the ordinary? (think WD-40, now with permanently affixed straw)

Look at other websites, not just libraries

Surprise and Delight (Rule 2: Do not eat iPod Shuffle)

Topeka library: image of library changes based on weather.

Create “Easter Eggs” on library website.


1. Connect with the customer (tracking customer perception of library)

2. Create an experience stage (Fish!) Remember: all the world’s a stage.

3. Work on conversation- across multiple formats (writing, talking, photographing, videoing)

4. Work on organizational change

exploring the intersection of libraries, technology, and community

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