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LibGuides Best Practices

What should be in the Home

HomeAn overview of the content and how to effectively use your guide

HomeRelated subject and course guides

  • Evidence 1: "Your design should organize the user interface purposefully, in meaningful and useful ways based on clear and consistent models that are apparent and recognizable to users, putting related things together and separating unrelated things." (User Interface Design Tips, Techniques, and Principles)


1. Titles of each side-menu should be short (3 words max)

  • Evidence 1: "Users typically see about 2 words for most list items; they'll see a little more if the lead words are short, and only the first word if they're long." (Jakob Nielsen, UX Expert)

2. The number of side-menu should be less than 7

  • Evidence 1: Information overload for users and they are more likely to feel overwhelmed and skip the tabs provided. (University of Washington Libraries: LibGuides Usability Testing) 
  • Evidence 2: "Fewer tabs might increase the likelihood that users will access all of the content on a guide." (Cornell University Libraries: Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage)

3. Home vs. Getting Started

  • Evidence 1: 'Home is a universally accepted term that users can easily know what it means on a guide. 

4. Nudge Users: Meaningful side-menu label

  • Evidence 1: Students wanted to have a meaningful label so that they could instantly understand what the guide was. (University of Michigan: Undergraduate Student Focus Groups)
  • Evidence 2: Students were more likely to use guides when it was written as 'Recommended resources' than when it was a generic term as 'Databases.' (University of Michigan: Guerrilla Testing)

How to Present Information

DisplayDon't display a long and important text in the narrow box in the left side under Menu

  • Evidence 1: It is not readable. 
  • Evidence 2: "Time after time, user's eyes were drawn to the center of the page." (University of Washing Libraries: LibGuides Usability Testing)
  • Evidence 3: Users don't recognize boxes right under the Side-Menu except Contact Information

DisplayDon't have everything on the one subject guide.

  • Create individual course guides
    • If you have a submenu for course guides on your subject guide, create individual course guides. Then provide a link to your subject guide on the course guide

DisplayBe friendly - Provide static descriptions of each resource

  • Evidence 1: "Users didn't want to remember what a rollover description contained." (University of Washington: LibGuides Usability Testing)
  • Evidence 2: "Users wanted description of the databases they were presented." (University of Washington: LibGuides Usability Testing)

DisplayLess is better than more - Key information only

  • Evidence 1: Information overload for users
  • Evidence 2: Cluttered pages

DisplaySpace - Break up content

  • Evidence 1: It is more readable when there is a space or break.
  • It doesn't need to contain the kitchen sink, which can be overwhelming - less is more!

DisplayMinimize redundancy

  • Evidence 1: "Users were confused about links and search boxes that went to the same place." (University of Washington: LibGuides Usability Testing)

DisplayBe consistent in terms of layout and styles

  • Evidence 1: "Inconsistent layouts confused users. User behavior demonstrated that inconsistent structure made it hard for them to find resources and created confusion." (University of Washington: LibGuides Usability Testing)

Titles of Your Guides & Friendly URLs

The title of your guide is important because it leads your students to find your guide.

  • Subject guides - Subject only and no any other subtitles ex) English, Anthropology
  • Course guides - Course number: Title (Subtitle: optional) ex) ENG W231: Professional Writing Skills
  • How-to guides - Intuitive and descriptive of your How-to guide ex) Data Visualization Basics

Create friendly URLs.

Your Profile

What to put in your profile box:

  • Add box title. "Librarian" is recommended.
  • Add profile image.
    • Profile images must be a picture of your face.
  • Add contact info.
    • Enter phone number and office address.
    • Do not enter Skype, website/blog.
    • Display Options: Select Page & Box
  • Social Media, Social Cataloging
    • Add links to your personal social media if desired.
  • Widgets
    • Leave blank as we will have Ask Us box.

What to put in your profile page:

  • Select "Enabled"
  • Add info to Personal Statement Section. (Office hours and other pertinent info.)
    • Do not duplicate contact info listed in the profile box, as this text is displayed directly to the left of the box on your live profile.

Contact Information

ContactLocate the profile box on the Home only under the side-menu navigation

  • Evidence 1: "The participants went to variety of places for support." (University of Washington Libraries: LibGuides Usability Testing)

  • Evidence 2: "Having contact information for the library/librarians on the guides is important; more than one student commented that they wanted to be able to ask questions of a real person if needed." (University of Michigan: Undergraduate Student Focus Groups)

ContactLabel: Subject Librarian vs. Your Personal Librarian vs. Librarian

  • Evidence 1: Either way is okay, but it should be consistent across all guides.

ContactGeneral Contact Us from your library's Shared Resource Guide


  • Use "&" as opposed to "and" whenever possible in guide, tab, box, and link titles
  • Landing pages for books and journals include IUCAT and Citation Linker widgets, respectively