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Best Practices for Creating Research Guides at NVU Libraries

This guide offers tips and a template for creating libguides for NVU Libraries, with the specific intent to make all libguides accessible to every student.

Writing for the Web

Users skim content on websites in an F-shaped pattern. Make your guide easy to read with these tips:

  • Write clearly and simply. Aim for action content
  • Put the most important information at the top.
  • Avoid long paragraphs of content. Use lists.
  • Less is more! After drafting the text, next cut it in half and then cut in half again.
  • Break up long lists. Lists with more than 7 items appear long and may not get read.
  • Link to denser material deeper in the page.

Additional resources:

Less is More

Usability tests show that students are overwhelmed when websites are long and full of large, dense paragraphs of text. Keep long prose, as well as tabs, text, lists, number of pages and boxes to a minimum. 

There's no magic number, but if you have more than 4 resources in a box you then consider how you can edit the content.

*Tip: Sort lists in order of importance because students tend to click on the first link.

Strive for getting the user started, not to cover the entire topic comprehensively.  

Database Descriptions

  • Always include a description of what users can expect to find in the database or link.
  • Use stock descriptions of databases for consistency.
  • If you use acronyms then also include the full phrase.

Print Resources

Use the Book from the Catalog feature to highlight print resources.  Keep in mind that many people prefer e-books, which are more accessible for a wider audience.

And remember, as with other lists, keep it short so as not to overwhelm users.