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David Lee King: Be visual online

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The first Web browser I used was Lynx, which was a text-only browser. And that was ok, because way back then, the Web was pretty much text-based, too.

Image: David Lee KingDavid Lee King

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

He speaks internationally about emerging trends, website management, digital experience, and social media, and has been published in many library-related journals. David is a Library Journal Mover and Shaker.

His newest book is Face2Face: Using Facebook, Twitter, and Other Social Media Tools to Create Great Customer Connections.

David blogs at

Read David's other articles…

Image: Social media

My, how the times have changed!

Today's Web is full of colours, movement, images, and videos. Today's Web is visual. Social media has helped make the visual Web what it is today (have you looked at your Facebook feed lately?).

Visual is definitely here to stay. How can you make your website more visual than it is now? Here are some tips on adding visual elements to your website.

First, what do you need to start?

  • Get a camera. Your smartphone works great for starters. A nice, new DSLR or mirrorless camera is even better.

  • Learn how to use your camera. Also crack open some of those how-to books in your library, and learn some basic lighting, audio, and composition techniques.
  • If needed, make sure to get signed photo release forms. It's an extra step, but it's worth the extra hassle.

Now that you have a camera and know how to use it, let's make your website and social media channels more visual.

Make sure there's a visual element on each page of your website. There are two goals here:

  1. showing people using the library; and

  2. showing specific service points being used, or events being attended. You can fake this by having staff pretend to be customers, but real customers are always better.

For example, instead of a far off photo of your bookmobile, take a photo inside the bookmobile at a busy time. Get up close and show activity. Then use the best photo on your Web page about the bookmobile schedule. Do the same thing with events. Take photos at events, programmes, and classes that happen at the library, and pepper them around your events pages.

For social media, you can think a bit more like a reporter. For example, I created a short, one-minute video celebrating the opening of a bike share programme at my library. The video is stored on YouTube, and we shared it via Twitter and Facebook, and blogged about it on our website. The video has over 250 views, and quickly tells the story of why we have rental bikes at the library. Video is a handy way to quickly tell a story.

You can also take photos to show off what's happening. We have a really popular Trivia Night gaming event at the library. When that happens, we have hundreds of people in our auditorium. We make sure to take photos of that event – with all the people – and share it on social media.

Doing this shows that people love visiting the library and really enjoy trivia night. The photo might convince others to attend the next time. We can also use that same photo before the next trivia night to do some social media reminders about the event, which will also serve as an ad for what will appear to be a well-attended (and, therefore, popular and fun) event.

Words certainly add a lot of useful information to your website. I think also adding a visual element really helps, too. It helps draw your customer's eyes into the story, and hopefully, into the library, too!