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Making LibGuides

How To Make Good Research Guides

Plan a structure

How should you organize your guide? How many pages should you make? A simple and intuitive information architecture for any topical research guide could be...

  • Start Here
    Use this section to introduce your user to the topic. Give them a summary of what research is like for this topic. You can also use this page to Insert helpful keywords, general research help info, Reference Desk info, links to the Citation Guide, Zotero, WTC, or other resources.
  • Articles
    Do you know key articles in the field? Provide a selection of readings! A list of recommended databases can also go here. 
  • Journals
    Recommended journals with direct links could go here.
  • Books
    This is a great place to highlight important books in the collection. Links to ConnectNY and ILL work great here. 
  • Video
    Any important videos in the film & video collection, Kanopy, Docuseek, or Alexander Street Press? 
  • Data & Statistics
    Are your users going to be looking for data? Maybe include some important links in here.
  • Websites
    What are the external web resources that our users should know about? The internet is huge and there's lots of great stuff for just about any topic. Look for professional organizations, blogs, open access materials, etc.

When creating web content, ask yourself: "why is the user here? what are they looking for?"

Use Profiles

Profile boxes are great for users to find your contact information and learn your subject concentrations. Please insert your profile box below the side-navigation. It is good practice to put your profile on all pages of your guide. Many of our users enter our guides from a Google search. If you only put your profile on the home page, users may not find your contact information.

To learn more about customizing your profile, check out SpringShare's Profile Box Guide.

Assign Subjects & Tags

Be sure to give your guide subject categories! These will help users discover your guide on our website, which is arranged by subject. Check out the Assigning Subject Categories guide to learn how to assign subjects & tags.

Use Links

Use links often, but be sure to link to stable sources. When adding library databases to your guide, use the LibGuide Databases Asset tool. This will ensure that the link is stable. Similarly, when linking resources from our discovery layer, use EBSCO Permalinks. When selecting what text to use for linking, avoid vague words like "here,"  "link," or "this." Use descriptive and active phrases whenever possible.  

Linking to a new tab vs. same tab

In general, your links should open in the same window. It is possible set your links to open in a new tab, but this should only be done in scenarios where we would expect the user to need both tabs open (such as filling out a form and referring to a guide). Many assistive tools like screen readers do not announce to users when links open to a new tab and this experience can be jarring for them. Additionally, it should be noted that all links can be voluntarily opened in a new tab by CTRL+clicking or right-clicking>open in a new tab. However, if you force a link to open a new tab, you take that choice away from the user. That said, if you need to, you can link to a new tab by clicking clicking the "Target" tab and select the New Window "_blank" option. For more information about this, read Linking to a New Tab vs Same Tab.

Link Checker

LibGuides has a tool to check for broken links. It's a good practice to check your guides at least once a semester. Learn how to use the tool with Springshare's Link Checker Guide.

Avoid redundant content

Our website features a persistent "Ask a Librarian" widget, social media links, footer links, a discovery service search bar, and navigation bar. Please avoid repeating this content in your guide. Not only does it create visual noise, this practice also raises accessibility issues for non-sighted users. When users navigate a website by listening, any repeated information is a bump in the road on the way to the content they're looking for.

Avoid Custom styling, fonts, or colors

The website stylesheets are configured to make all of our content look consistent and part of the "Pratt Identity." If you override the styling of any of your content, it will not be consistent and may erode trust in our users or be less accessible. 

Copying & Pasting

Watch out for inconsistent text formatting when you copy and paste from outside sources. This can sometimes create color contrast or accessibility issues. If content does not appear consistent with the Pratt Style, open the Rich Text Editor, highlight the content, and click the Remove Format button--it looks like this:  button with an underlined capital T and an an X 

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