6 Ways to Supercharge Your Arena Site

Just as it important that you have friendly and helpful face to face interactions with your users, so it is important that the experience your users have when interacting with the library online is a positive one.

Yet, when it comes to the digital world, the goalposts are always shifting. Things that were merely a preference or a luxury several years ago – things such responsive design and online payments – are now expected. There is a drive not only from users but also from central government for as many services as possible to be available online.

This blog is all about making sure you’re aware of some of the additional features of Arena that can help you not just meet expectation but also drive improvements in engagement and readership.

1. Start receiving online payments

With revenue generation now a crucial part of running a modern day library service, it is vital that you are able to take payments at every touchpoint, which of course includes online.

In 2016, online transactions accounted for 37% of all debit card transactions in the UK and the UK Government is pushing heavily for public services to be ‘digital by default’.

What is apparent is that paying for services online has gone beyond a personal preference to become something that we expect of our local authority.

Arena Tip: You can help your users pay fines and other fees in a way that suits their needs with Online Payments.

2. Upgrade to responsive design

Web traffic from mobile devices overtook desktop, globally, in 2014 and has only increased in dominance ever since. In the UK, mobile now accounts 61% of all internet traffic.

Those familiar with the frustration of trying to navigate an unresponsive site from a smartphone (most of us I presume), will understand how important responsive design is.

Nowadays, responsive design is fundamental to providing a good user experience. In fact, research from Adobe suggests that 38% of people will stop engaging with a website if the content/layout is unattractive.

Arena Tip: Make it easy for users to navigate your Arena site and find the content they need – speak to us about responsive design.

3. Give your site a facelift

The library brand has needed a bold reawakening in recent times and this has led to some great examples of libraries growing in popularity. One obvious example is Idea Stores, whose realignment and rebranding has helped them achieve a rating of ‘good’ or ‘very good’ from 92% of locals in 2015’s CIPFA’s Public Library User Survey.

Libraries’ online presence has also come under criticism, with the most notable example coming from Better Connected, who assess local authority web services. Better Connected criticised the disparity in design between many councils’ central site and the library site/catalogue, which is more often than not a third-party system:

“Taking the ‘renew library books’ link from the main council site immediately changes the site ‘look and feel’, confusing the user”.

This is, of course, bad for user experience and a poor reflection on the library.

Better Connected did recommend seven sites as good examples however. Five of which were Axiell Arena sites. This is not surprising when considering that Arena is highly customisable meaning that it can be designed to match the branding of the council website.

Arena Tip: Brand is all about consistency. Go to your Arena site and check that the design elements, such as header and colour scheme, match those on the main council site. Is the user journey coherent? Has the council’s corporate branding changed without Arena being updated?

Good user experience is vital in driving engagement, so speak to us about ways to improve the look and feel of your Arena site.

4. Seamlessly integrate e-books and e-media

While sales of e-books appear on the decline, borrowing of digital content, such as e-books and e-audiobooks, from public libraries has actually increased – as much as 38% between 2015 and 2016. And with a more diverse range of content and content types, there are more opportunities for reaching new readers.

Libraries have responded to this trend, with most services offering thousands of titles in digital formats. But, in a digital world, supply is only part of meeting user demand.

A good user experience (UX) is now an expectation for users and research from Better Connected shows that the experience of borrowing e-books from UK public libraries is simply not up to scratch. Only a third of services make it easy for their users to find and download digital content on their website/online portal.

Better Connected suggests that the key issue here is that, in order to check out and download content, users often have to leave the library site and log in to a third-party suppliers’ site. So, in order to improve user experience and match user expectation, it should be possible to lend e-books straight out of the OPAC.

Arena Tip: Keep the number of steps users have to take when downloading an e-book to a minimum, to make the user journey simple and enjoyable. With the development of eHUB, we have worked with content suppliers to seamlessly integrate their content into Arena, without the need to visit external sites.

5. Incorporate Amazon-style online recommendations

Librarians do an incredible job at not just finding what users are looking for but also providing moments inspiration, by recommending something new to users. Something, based on the user’s preferences, even they didn’t know they were looking for.

But what about those users looking for books online? Librarians can’t be everywhere at once.

Online giants Amazon have found great success in using a recommendations engine to serve their customers with automated recommendations. You will recognise the phrase “People who bought this item also bought…”

Recommendations like this have been so successful at Amazon that they are estimated to be behind a 29% increase in sales between 2011 and 2012.

And something very similar is available for libraries, which is great because who doesn’t like finding a great new read? …and watching the pile of books stack up and stack up.

Arena Tip: Add the Recommendations Engine to your Arena site to give your patrons an Amazon-like online experience and drive readership by making content discovery a more personal and effective experience.

6. Utilise our Arena Managed Service

Not all libraries have the resources and personnel on hand to make changes and updates to Arena as and when they are needed.

More and more is being asked of librarians and library managers, meaning they have less time doing what they do best: engaging with users and inspiring the next generation of readers and writers.

So, in order that there is one less distraction, we set up the Arena Managed Service. This service takes the burden of monitoring and updating Arena away from library staff and gives you greater access to our team of experts.

Arena Tip: Free up library staff time. With the Arena Managed Service, your Arena site will be in the capable hands of our library experts, who have the skills and resources to make sure your Arena site is always live and up to date with your latest news and campaigns.

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