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HSLIC LibGuides Style Guide

This guide is intended for HSLIC employees to assist in the creation of their guides.

Know Who the Intended Audience Is

  • Think about who the user of the guide is. What do they need and why? It can be tempting to start building guides to just house resources, but we need to be purposeful in building instructional tools.
    • You might be creating a guide for a specific department geared towards faculty and researchers one day and a subject guide for undergraduate students getting started with literature searching another day. It is okay to adapt the way you structure guides and how much instructional content you provide based on this. While we do want some standardization of design and tone across all guides, that is not to limit you from adapting the guides you create to suit the needs of your audience.
  • Write content from a user-centered approach, avoiding library jargon, and communicate messages as briefly as possible.

Content Must Be Accessible

It is very important that the content on our guides be accessible to all of our users. There are things we can do to make sure we are making the guides as inclusive as possible. These standards need to be met before publishing a guide. See the Accessibility section of this guide to make sure you are adhering to accessibility guidelines here at HSLIC.

Break Up Lengthy Content

Guides should build in contextual information and not just be a list of links. There is an inevitable tension between conflicting purposes: bulleted lists for quick findability and lists of resources vs. sentences and paragraphs for explanation. Try to alternate modes: break up explanations with bullets, sub-headings, and other visual cues (though see the Accessibility section to make sure you are adhering to those standards) to group smaller "chunks" of information.

Less is More!

Usability tests from MIT and Michigan University show that students are confused by excessive content and don't want images or design elements (like different fonts, colors, etc.) that don't have purpose. So, tabs, text, lists, number of pages, and boxes should be kept to a minimum. Furthermore images should only be utilized when trying to convey a specific message and changes in colors of text should be kept to a minimum (fonts should never be changed).

  • There's no magic number, but if you have more than 6 or 7 resources in a single content box you should think about why you might need that many and how you could clarify the content to users (tabbed boxes to divide specific types of resources, headers to do the same, or even thinking about if the content could be divided onto another page or box).
  • Strive for usability. If you are finding that you are wanting to add more content that gets into very specific subsets of a subject and the guide is becoming too comprehensive, you might want to consider creating another guide for that subset and link them together for discoverability.

Duplicated Content Should Be Mapped, Not Copied

  • In the event that you want to utilize content from the LibGuides Tool Box, another guide, or even a link it is best practice to map to the original content as opposed to copying it. The reason for this is because mapping to the original content makes maintenance easier because it means we only have to update once and then every guide with that resource will automatically be updated. See the Adding Content page for more information on how to do this.
  • Customization can sometimes be appropriate for content within boxes and when that is the case you can make a copy of the box which will allow you to edit it. This means though that you must be responsible for keeping that content up to date and correct.
    • The exception is if you do this with a box that has links/assets in it. In that case you should instead create a fresh box, copy and paste the text you need, and then map to the original link(s). Again, see the Adding Content page for more information on how to do this.
  • If you want to utilize a Widget you should always map to what is on the Tool Box. If there is a widget that you need that isn't on the Tool Box please ask Kelleen Maluski about creating one.

Division Head; Education, Consultation & Reference Services

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Ingrid Hendrix
Health Sciences Library and Informatics Center
Room 216e