This research assessed website management and development practices across the United Kingdom university library sector. As a starting point, the design and features of this group of websites was recorded against criteria drawn from the extant literature. This activity established core content and features of UK library websites as: a search box or link for searching the library catalogue, electronic resources or website; a navigation column on the left and breadcrumb trail to aid information location and website orientation; homepage design was repeated on library website sub-pages; university brand elements appeared in the banner; and a contact us link was provided for communication with library personnel. Library websites conformed to 14 of the 20 homepage usability guidelines examined indicating that web managers were taking steps to ensure that users were well served by their websites. Areas for improvement included better navigation support (sitemap/index), greater adoption of new technologies and more interactive features.
Website management and development practices were established through national survey and in-depth case studies. These illustrated the adoption of a team approach to website management and development; formal website policy and strategy were not routinely created; library web personnel and their ability to build effective links with colleagues at the institution made a valuable contribution to the success of a library website; corporate services and institutional practices played an important part in library website development; library staff were actively engaged in consultations with their website audience; and a user focused approach to website development prevailed. User studies and metric data were considered in the website evaluation and development process. However, there were some issues with both data streams and interpreting metric data to inform website development. Evaluation and development activities were not always possible due to staff/time shortages, technical constraints, corporate website templates, and, to a lesser extent, lack of finance.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.