Injecting Personality into a Library Website

While moving our website into WordPress, I came across a blog post about adding some personality into a website (I’ve unfortunately lost the link to it). So, I thought I’d find some small ways to do that with our site too.

I was recently reading as well about how successful GVSU Library has been with their construction updates using a twitter account by giving the building a persona.

404 Page

One of the most common ways that a site will show some personality is with its 404 page. One of my favourites is the Github 404. I thought maybe we could do something a little more amusing than the standard 404, so with the help of my partner, we came up with this:

404 Page with Dewey joke

Unfortunately, I got various complaints that the 404 page was confusing and didn’t make any sense (from staff, it was changed before the site went public). I knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t fly with making it public for our users because they wouldn’t get it, but I thought at least one staff member would get the joke.

I may have another stab at it with a simpler one, perhaps with just a headline, but that won’t be in at least a couple of months.

Custom Avatar

One of my thoughts for the blog was to have a custom default avatar that would be a picture of our university mascot or just a version of our library’s logo. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a plugin that worked on multisite that would allow me to set a custom avatar only for the main site (and not all the subsites).

Placeholder Text

I actually mentioned this in a previous post that I decided to have a little fun with placeholder text, but here it is again.

WP Comments Form Edited version 2

Eggy the Ram is the name of our university mascot. No one has actually noticed this since our blog hasn’t been moved. Thankfully, unlike the 404, the placeholder text here should have no chance of confusing people.


Another idea I recently thought of that might be fun is for students to get badges during orientation or even throughout their time in school for completing workshops or similar things. Instead of an in-house system, it could be done using something like Open Badges.

I’d be interested to see if other more formal institutions have done any of these or other things to add some ‘personality’ to their sites.

Author: Cynthia

Technologist, Librarian, Metadata and Technical Services expert, Educator, Mentor, Web Developer, UXer, Accessibility Advocate, Documentarian

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