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