Making Announcements: On-Site vs. News Blog

We’ve recently had to put up a couple of announcements due to some patches and upgrades on our library website server. Right now, I’m doing it the way I’ve seen it done on most library websites and that’s to simply put up an announcement on the front page.

Ryerson Home page with Announcement

However, there are numerous downsides to this method.

First, the way I’ve done it, it only shows on the home page, and no other page.

Second, you have to visit the website beforehand while the announcement is up in order to know that the site will be down later.

Using the Blog

One way to get around the second problem at least, is to use the blog. Posting on the blog automatically pushes the downtime announcements to the homepage feed, meaning that anything following the feed will see the notice even without visiting the site. On our blog, we can also automatically push to Twitter and Facebook if we choose to do so.

On the other hand, it’s very much time sensitive, and if the person doesn’t visit the site during the early hours of the morning, they wouldn’t even notice. Is it something people really need to be notified off-site? If someone visits often enough, they’ll see it.

Notification Bar

To fix the first problem though, I have been pondering the use of a notification bar. Much like the ones you see when your JavaScript or Cookies are disabled (see the stackoverflow example below).

Example of Notification Bar with Stack Overflow's site

Of course, best practices seem to be to only use notification bars for browser related issues.

Pop Up

What might work better is to have a in-page popup on first visit (once the announcement is set), with the option to dismiss it. Using cookies, you could then locally store a simple variable to see whether the person has dismissed that particular announcement already.

Ideally, we could do it in such a way that it will work across the entire domain rather than just the one site.

Author: Cynthia

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

2 thoughts on “Making Announcements: On-Site vs. News Blog”

  1. Oh man, I HATE pop-ups, and I don’t think I’m alone. I think your first ‘notification bar’ idea is a lot better. I’m not sure if it’s true that “best practices” are that notification bars are only for browser-related issues — but you don’t need to make it look like a ‘notification bar’, the basic idea is a standard spot on all your pages for alerts/announcements, ideally with a way for users to dismiss them. I think this is a WAY better user experience than a popup.

    1. but I don’t’ mean a pop-up window, because those I will always loath with a passion ever since the geocities days when we had pop-up ads. I do mean more of a floating type box that would appear at the top or maybe top right of the page (probably with some translucency), which you can then dismiss.

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