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LibGuide Design: Best Practices and Guidelines

Accessible navigation on LibGuides

LibGuides supports responsive design, and guides will appear differently when viewed on a variety of devices. Depending on the screen size of device, layout and navigation features of LibGuides will adjust and rearrange to fit the screen. Following these navigation guidelines will improve the accessibility and usability of your guides, especially when it comes to viewing on mobile devices:

  • Use the recommended side navigation layout
  • Keep tab/page titles short and limit the number of tabs to a single row

Examples of LibGuide navigation

Side Navigation

Side Navigation structure as seen on a mobile device:

Side Navigation LibGuide page as viewed on mobile device 

Side navigation structure as seen on a computer:

Side Navigation view of LibGuide page as seen on a computer  


Top Navigation

Top Navigation structure as seen on a mobile device:

Top Navigation LibGuide page as viewed on mobile device


Top navigation structure as seen on a computer:

Top Navigation view of LibGuide page as seen on a computer

Tips on formatting boxes in LibGuides to boost accessibility of your guide

  • When using Side-Nav layout, limit the box(es) you add underneath the navigation in the left column so that readers will focus on the main content in column 1.
  • Break up content so there is a natural flow when the columns are rearranged.
  • Group similar or themed content closer together in a column so they don't get separated.
  • View your guide on multiple screens (or resize your browser window) before publishing.

To check mobile look while on Chrome: right click on page> inspect> click on second icon from the top left (phone/tablet icon)

Source: University of Illinois's LibGuide- Getting Started with LibGuides

Accessible LibGuide layout

Be concise and well-organized

  • Use short sentences and short paragraphs. Content that this concise serves the users better than exhaustively thorough paragraphs. 
  • Use subject headings to split content into readable length. 
  • Use bulleted lists or numbered lists (when information is sequential) to group related information in chunks and make it easy to skim.
  • Resources listed in order of importance rather than alphabetically, as students tend to use the first resources listed.
  • Keep lists of resources short – maybe to the top five key resources featured prominently. One may also consider breaking long lists of resources into different link groups based on similar content type.

Consider Your Users

Most content should be geared towards our users, not ourselves. Think about what tasks your users need to do and how your content can help them do that.

  • Use plain language (avoid jargon, slang, idioms, and acronyms; use common words over more difficult ones; use active voice; it’s ok to address the user as “you”).
  • Don’t bury the lead. Put the most important information at the top of the page.
  • Provide a clear “call to action.” If next steps are needed, don’t bury them as links in the middle of a paragraph – separate them out to draw attention to them.
  • Be inclusive: use gender-neutral terms; use B.C.E. and C.E. instead of B.C. and A.D.

Make It Easier to Find

  • Make sure guide and page titles provide context. Keep the titles short, descriptive and consistent.
  • Add subject and include keywords using tags. 
  • Use friendly URLs. Friendly URLs increase the usability of guides, as patrons are more likely to remember and reuse a guide if the URL is short and easy. Best practice for new guides is to create a friendly URL using the guide’s title.

Be Selective & Future-friendly

Creating and maintaining high-quality content can be time-consuming. Do your future self a favor and consider whether your decisions will cause more work than is necessary in the future.

  • Focus on creating content that only the library could provide. Remember that any page you create will need to be maintained regularly in the future so be selective about what you choose to create.
  • Avoid providing content through a linked PDF (that is hard to update).
  • Use language that won’t need updating. For example, instead of “The new classroom will become available in September 2015” say “As of September, 2015 the classroom is available…”

From Illinois Library Best Practices: Layout & Content page of their Getting Started with LibGuides resources.

LibGuide Navigation & Layout Resources

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