August 21, 2009

Another Reason for Libraries to Make Their Sites Social

Now that I’m on a smartphone that has a real web browser and is capable of multitasking (the Palm Pre), In fact, I find myself expecting it to act like my laptop. I’ve stopped carrying my laptop or my netbook to work each day because I can do so much on my phone, but I’m still noticing where decisions made by web designers make my mobile life easier.

So here’s mobile developer tip #1, my two cents: use plugins and widgets that let users automatically share your content on sites like Twitter, Delicious, Facebook, etc., because you’ll make the user’s life easier. Granted, not all phones support the Javascript that powers this type of service on a web page, but more and more will, so consider getting ahead of the curve and adding it now.

The alternative for me as the reader (acknowledging each person’s situation is different) is to:

  1. Leave the site up in a card until I get home in the evening and can manually bookmark it on my laptop. This works about 50% of the time.
  2. Email the site to myself so I can bookmark it later on my laptop. This works about 80% of the time but is annoying.
  3. Try remembering to revisit the site later on my laptop to bookmark it. This works 0% of the time.

As a result, I’m finding that I’m far more likely to bookmark something if there’s a direct link to post it to Delicious, and that workflow will continue for me until there’s a Pre app that makes this easier, which means I really appreciate sites that offer this. Even better is if you can add it so that it appears in your RSS feed so that it shows up in places like Google Reader and Bloglines, too.

Here are some options to consider for adding this functionality to your site.

  • For WordPress blogs, you can use the Sociable plugin (I’m sure there are others, but this is what I use so I know it works). I have another blog post brewing on this topic, but this is yet another reason I encourage libraries to make their “what’s new” page a blog – you can then use the wealth of plugins out there to improve the user’s experience.

    Sociable WordPress plugin

  • For Drupal sites, you can use something like the Share module (I’m going to look into this for ALA Connect. If you’re using a different CMS, check to see if there’s a similar module for it.
  • Failing that, or even for use on general web pages, check out something like the Add This widget, although I have to admit I’m not sure how accessible it is.

Regardless, this can be a relatively easy way to help meet the needs of your mobile users, a group that’s just going to grow in the future. Food for thought. Nom nom nom.

Be Sociable, Share!

11:17 am Comments (6)

6 Comments

  1. One might also look at plug-ins that form the website pages with mobile browsers in mind. For instance, I recently installed the wptouch plug-in on my blog to offer a dramatically slimmed down version (still with all of the content intact).

    Comment by Peter Murray — August 21, 2009 @ 11:54 am

  2. We do this from our full articles on our site (running on Joomla) – been doing it for a while now.
    Example on the registration announcement for our book festival in November
    http://pioneer.lib.ok.us/PLS/111-Press/1341-red-dirt-book-festival

    Comment by Adri — August 21, 2009 @ 8:02 pm

  3. Great suggestion! I did a bit of research and decided to try Add to Any ( http://www.addtoany.com/ ; I am using the WordPress plugin via http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/add-to-any/ ). My first impressions are good, and it seems to work at the post level with my mobile browser.

    I will second Peter Murray’s suggestion; I installed MobilePress ( http://mobilepress.co.za/ ) last spring, and like how it formats for mobile browsers.

    Comment by Rick Mason — August 23, 2009 @ 7:24 pm

  4. […] Jenny Levine makes a great case on The Shifted Librarian for adding a feature to your sites that allows users to easily share your content via social networks.  Not only will this offer a way for your users to help spread the work about services and activities that you offer, but it can help them keep track of information they find so that they can revisit it later.  This will be a benefit for users of mobile browsers, which are rapidly becoming a more significant portion of visitors to our web sites. […]

    Pingback by Libology Blog » Social Your Site — August 23, 2009 @ 7:40 pm

  5. I use Add This (http://www.addthis.com) as a Firefox add-on (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/4076) to post content I like to Facebook, my blog, etc. – I think it’s great. Allows one to share all web content, and very useful when the original source doesn’t have a share option.

    Comment by Lindsay Stratton — August 27, 2009 @ 8:45 am

  6. Hi – definitely great advice and I’d like to suggest you install my WP plugin.

    It’s called the Wapple Architect Mobile Plugin for WordPress and it mobilizes your blog. It makes your blog work on every single device, from a WML phone to a brand new swanky phone with XHTML. Images are dynamically resized and you get the option to really customize your blog any way you want.

    In addition, you can upload mobile logos, style your site so the mobile version matches the website and you retain your brand identity. You also get loads of control over mobile SEO.

    With regards to mobiready, I know this plugin will score poorly. However, what you should know, is that the mobiready test is out of date and can’t handle the advanced nature on my plugin (being totally dynamic rather than totally static) – it’s the fault of the test, not my plugin!

    If you fancy giving it a go, the URL is http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wapple-architect/ – it’d be great to hear your feedback!

    Comment by Rich Gubby — August 27, 2009 @ 10:05 am

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