31 Jan Help at the point of need – 404 error pages
I’m always impressed with simple ideas to help users at their point of need, whether that’s physical signs when libraries can be confusing, or pointers to help users on the library website.
Something which impressed me last year was the idea of adding help to error pages on the library catalogue. Following examples such as David Lee King at Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, many libraries added Meebo widgets to error pages of their OPACs so that when users could not find what they were looking for on the OPAC they could immediately ask for help from a virtual librarian via Meebo.
Another great example of a library website error page was brought to my attention by Smashing Magazine yesterday, who wrote a post reviewing 404 error pages. One example in their post was from Chelmsford Public library who have a great error page:
What a great idea! I love their library shelf image, and they also have numerous links below the image to direct users to where they can get help. Very simple but effective.
Anyone else know of good error pages or examples where you found help when you needed it online?
Edited to add: Just found a blog post by Brian Herzog (AKA Swiss Army Librarian), the reference librarian who produced the 404 error page for Chelmsford. He also mentions a Flickr group of library 404 error pages but so far there’s not much there. I’ll definitely be asking about a user-friendly error page as part of our web refresh project, even if it’s just links of where to go for further help.