Understanding Your Website

and Prioritizing Improvements

Peter Velikonja, Head of Research, Koios LLC

Maggie Carson, Strategy, Koios LLC

www.koios.co | peter (at) koios.co | maggie (at) koios.co

VLA Conference October 2022


Libraries know their websites are a primary form of engagement with their community. A website is an investment, which asks for continual improvement. Many helpful online guides outline steps to improve a website, but, without context, it can be hard to know which steps matter most. This presentation cracks open some website mysteries, filling in details on website analytics, performance, and SEO.


  • Websites are Trees
  • Tree Structure
    Sitemap example
    Tree as Data Structure
    Champaign (IL) Public Library
  • Offered to the World

    • performance (load time)
    • usage (website analytics)
    • responsive (phones)


  • What is Improvement?

  • Being a Really Useful Engine
  • Classifying Suggestions
    • functional
    • design
    • platitudes
  • Finding Suggestions
    • US Small Business Administration
      fresh content (remove past events)
      call to action
      contact info prominent
      images and video
      current design (fashion)
      page speed
      works on a phone (mobile responsive)
    • Hubspot
      Use white space
      Optimize your page speed
      Use attractive calls to action
      Use hyperlink differentiation
      Segment key information with bullet points
      Use images (wisely)
      Include well-designed and written headlines
      Keep your website pages consistent
      Catch your 404s
      Be responsive and mobile-friendly
    • Indeed
      Understand your users
      Plan intentionally
      Stay organized
      Be consistent
      Use responsive design
      Test frequently
      Speed up your page
      Generate high-quality content
      Eliminate distractions
      Integrate social proof
      Use call-to-action interaction
      Use graphics and images well
      Optimize your homepage
      Use white space effectively
      Be relatable
    • AMEX
      Keep the design simple, fresh and unique
      Consider that your visitors might be visiting from laptops, tablets and mobile phones
      Showcase your products and services
      Consider site load times
      Make your site easily accessibl
      Organize your site to provide a great user experience
      Content is critical
      Remember search engine optimization (SEO)
      Turn to creative crowdsourcing for your design and written content
    • IT vendors:
      • Envision IT Solutions
        Have a Plan
        Remove stocky images and ambiguous terminology
        Include social share and follow buttons
        Implement calls-to-action
        Use the right imagery that works for your audience
        Create a navigation that guides users through your site
        Let your visitors scroll on your homepage
        Don't be afraid of white space
        Stay mobile friendly
        Focus on SEO
        Never stop testing
        Find and fix 404s
        Create unique offerings
        Create content for your persona
      • Imact Plus, Green Geeks, Taylor Nguens, WebFX, Host.ie (Ireland)
  • Design Failures


    • Is a must-have
    • -- also for internal links
  • Site Speed
    • Google uses Lighthouse to evaluate web pages (article)
    • Lighthouse Example
    • VA Libraries
  • Works on a Phone
    • Lighthouse evaluates on a phone simulator...and Google uses Lighthouse
    • Equity
      • 35-40% of library traffic comes from phones
      • Demographic: young people, mobile-only households
      • Digital divide (Pew Research)
      • Around 2 billion people currently access the internet via only their smartphone
    • Use your own phone
    • VA Libraries
  • Website Analytics
    • Show where traffic comes from
    • Detect traffic bloat from robots
    • Compare Google to Matomo and Clicky
    • Move to GA4 before July 2023


  • Websites have size and shape, visits bring them to life.
  • Website analytics tell you how many visits, and, to a degree, who visits.
  • Website performance tells visitors (including Google) you care.
  • Phone viability is an Equity issue.



  • I'm not technical, and I don't have control of my library's website; what am I supposed to do with this information?
  • I don't 'understand' my website any better after listening to you, did you actually tell me something that would help me do that?
  • Why are you so dismissive of design (you called it 'fashion') do you feel it is unimportant?
  • You talk big about phones. That's not a question.