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David Lee King: Easy as a light switch

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Online work can be difficult. Writing code, editing images, and creating text that works well for your library and makes sense to your customers is no easy task! Functionality needs to make sense from an organizational perspective as well as to your library's customers. At the same time, the content needs to be clear and focused on the customer.

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…


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From your customer's perspective, we don't always get functionality and content right. I'm certain everyone reading this article has had this experience: hunting for something on a website that you knew was there, or that you have seen before, but can't find now.

It's a very frustrating experience that can quickly drive people away from your website.

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Here's something to keep in mind when creating websites and website content: make your website as easy to use as a light switch.

What do I mean by that? When you enter a dark room and reach for the light switch, what are you thinking about? Are you thinking about electricity, or the electrician? Are you thinking about the construction workers, or the technology involved? How about the functionality of the light switch?

My guess is probably not. Light switches are so simple to use that you simply flip on the switch, turn the light on, and go on about your business, not thinking about the technology or the functionality behind the light switch. The light switch is so simple to use that you don't have to think about it.

That's how easy your website needs to be. Your goal as a website builder or content creator is to keep your customers thinking about what they want to do (check out a book, find more information on a new library service or learn something, for example).

If your website's content or functionality is confusing, that confusion will take your customer's concentration away from his or her goal and onto your website's less-than-stellar content or functionality.

Not a good thing! In the online world, taking a customer away from their task means you have lost them. They will be gone in a click.

So keep your customers focused on their goals (and your great content and services) by making your website so simple to use that visitors don't have to puzzle out how your website or library works.

Make it simple as a light switch. That will help your customers stay focused on what they want to do on your website … which keeps them thinking about you.

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