Size (And Location) Do Matter: Web Page Re-Design and the IM Chat Widget

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Size (And Location) Do Matter: Web Page Re-Design and the IM Chat Widget

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The Bio-Medical Library installed an IM chat function on their recently re-vamped main webpage with much fanfare and anticipation in the Spring of 2007. The IM link was located next to the more conventional email, phone and other live chat links in the top portion of the left hand navigation bar. Over time, this service saw very little use, with a few random “chats” recorded every month. In late October 2009, the main webpage underwent a re-design. While the re-design itself was not overly radical, it had one significant change – in addition to the IM chat link in the left-hand navigation bar, an actual chat widget was embedded on the page that was visible “above the fold.” Instantly, IM chat usage rose astronomically to 1100% above of its previous usage. It became not uncommon for reference staff to need to handle several “chats” at the same time. This demonstration of the power of a visible IM chat widget, as opposed to a link, is leading to a campaign to have IM chat widgets embedded in more sections of the University’s web-presence, most particularly, the MyU/MyLibrary Portal and potential search “fail points” such as the online catalog. The visible chat widget is providing an expanded point-of-need, real-time “live” reference service that is proving to be a powerful and greatly appreciated communication tool.


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. Poster Exhibit, Midwest Chapter/Medical Library Association 2010 Annual Conference, Step Up, Step Forward, September 27, 2010, Madison, WI.

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Chew, Katherine; Reimer, Emily. (2010). Size (And Location) Do Matter: Web Page Re-Design and the IM Chat Widget. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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