February 17, 2018

ALA’s New Web Site Frustrates Users

By Walter Minkel

A flood of complaints about the long loading time and confusing organization of the American Library Association’s (ALA) new Web site, unveiled on April 7, has sent ALA’s site managers scrambling to make adjustments. Message boards for library professionals have been filled with complaints about the site’s many problems, including a search function that returns incomplete results and a cumbersome design that makes it difficult for new visitors to know that the American Association of School Librarians is an ALA division.

Users of ALA’s new site, unveiled on April 7, also claim that the long URLs of many frequently used pages are virtually impossible to remember, making it difficult to access many popular pages. Mary Ghikas, senior associate executive director of ALA’s Washington office, says the problems are typical for a relaunch, particularly for an immense 400,000-page Web site that receives 170,000 hits a day. “We’ve moved a huge site from a static site to a dynamic database,” says Ghikas, adding that many of the problems will be resolved as users get acclimated to the new design and the ALA Web-site staff tweaks it. ALA planned to make changes to the search function throughout April to make it faster and more accurate, says Bernadette Murphy, a communications specialist at ALA’s Washington office.