Iterating on Agile: Making It Work in Real Life

I’m excited to attend Code4Lib for the first time this week. While I don’t code currently, I do manage a team of uxers, designers, and coders. I’m looking forward to meeting likeminded colleagues and learning lots!

Mike Hagedon is our dev team lead and I’m our design team lead, and we’ll be presenting a poster on our design + dev experiments in agile methodologies. I hope if you’re attending you’ll come chat with us! Learn what we’ve tried, where we’ve succeeded, and where we’ve failed.

We also want to hear others’ perspectives and experiences. The poster will be interactive, so we’ll ask you to annotate it with questions, examples, and ideas. Here is the poster we have so far:


You can also see the PDF: Iterating on Agile.

Safe travels and see you in LA! #c4l17

Writing Effectively in Print and on the Web

It was a big effort, but I’m proud to announce my new book is out!

Order now: Writing Effectively in Print and on the Web: A Practical Guide for Librarians.

From the preface:

Writing plays a role in almost everything we do. It’s how we document our knowledge, share our stories, and ask our communities for help. It’s a tool to teach, influence, and persuade those around us. And in today’s digital age, we’re all publishers, sharing content with the world at the push of a button (literally). From webpages, to signage, to emails – writing is fundamental to our everyday lives.

Sadly, there is a lot of mediocre content out there: policy-driven websites with mountains of text, building signs that don’t actually tell you what you need to know, convoluted emails that leave you wondering, What was the point of that? Today’s reader is bombarded with endless streams of information and simply doesn’t have the time to sift through and make sense of it all.

Let’s do our part to end the madness. Writing Effectively in Print and on the Web: A Practical Guide for Librarians encourages you to put your readers at the heart of all your content, ensuring that it is engaging, relevant, and useful. You’ll learn techniques to write with clarity, precision, and purpose, which will serve you well in both your professional and personal life.

See more on Google Books or buy on Amazon. I hope you enjoy it.


Writing for the Web at Internet Librarian

Writing for the web has long been a passion of mine. I presented on it back at edUi in 2013, Nicole Capdarest-Arest and I created the course for Library Juice Academy and I’m currently writing a book related to the topic.

At Internet Librarian this week, I was thrilled to present on it alongside David Lee King. It was a lot of fun – we talked about why web writing matters, why we’re not so good at it, and how we can do it a bit better. Sadly our third panelist, Elaine Meyer, wasn’t able to attend at the last minute, but I think David did her justice in presenting her content.

Thanks for everyone who came out and participated. It’s cool to see so many people interested in creating better experiences through better content. I had a blast. Here’s my slide deck:

Writing for the User Experience

I love content strategy, as you may know, and at the heart of content strategy is good content. And at the heart of good content is good writing. Heck, most of the content that libraries provide is in the form of the written word.

Because of this, when I was invited to write another book for the Rowman & Littlefield Practical Guides series, I decided to write it on this topic. The working title is Writing for the User Experience. It’s going to be all about writing with the user in mind. We hear a lot about user-centered design. Now let’s dig into one of the hardest (but most important) pieces: user-centered writing. Most of the writing I’ve seen on library websites – and on education sites in general – is overly complicated, disorganized, and lacking of any personality. It’s getting better (shout out to MIT and Cal Poly especially), but still needs some serious attention.

I’ve been a fan of Ginny Redish’s Letting Go of the Words for years, my first introduction to better writing for the web. A recent masterpiece on the topic is Ann Handley’s book Everybody Writes, which came out last year. Couldn’t put it down. It’s fantastic.

I’ve dabbled in the topic a lot over the past few years. I taught a course on writing for the web for Library Juice Academy with my former colleague Nicole Capdarest-Arest, and spoke at edUi back in 2013 on writing with users in mind. I’ve been working with our content strategist at the library to re-work all of our content, slowly making strides to improve the experience our users have with our written content.

My goal is to write something that’s practical for the librarian. I hope it leads to better content not just on our websites, but in all communication channels. Everywhere content touches the user experience (think: emails, web, brochures, posters, signage, social media). It’s going to be a fun book to write, and if all goes well the manuscript will be in next May and published in the fall. Wish me luck!

Usability Testing: a Practical Guide for Librarians

And in other news…. I published a book! It came out at the end of September and I’m hoping it will be useful for anyone who is interested in dabbling in usability testing for the first time or leveling up their skills. Whether you’re on a string budget with little staffing, or you have a larger web team that’s committed to improving the user experience, this should be a worthwhile read.

If it’s not already a go-to handbook on your book shelf, please check it out. Available for $55.79 on Amazon.

Book cover for Usability Testing: a Practical Guide for Librarians

Taming Our Franken-site

WordPress reminded me that I’ve been slacking on this blog, sorry about that…

It’s a bit late, but this is a presentation I gave along with our web content strategist, Shoshana Mayden, at edUi earlier in the fall:

EdUI – a great conference as always.

And some news: just last month, we were able to secure a permanent position. That’s right, our library now has a full-time content strategist! And it’s pretty fabulous. (She was previously on a one-year contract. A year of hard work proved how extremely valuable content strategy is to our organization).