What I expect from content provider websites


What do I expect from content providers in terms of technologies used on their web sites? Oh, just a few things:

  • RSS feeds for journal tables of content
  • RSS feeds for new titles
  • Sensible management tools for viewing and using the above (read: mass download OPML for librarians, view “by subject”, not just “title” or “year”)
  • No session data in URLs!
  • RESTful sites
  • No ASP! (OK! Sounds a bit partisan, but I really, really only have bad experience trying to work with sites based on ASP; it’s either a bad technology, or it has attracted the lower end of the developer masses. Or both?)
  • Views (I want to be able to review information without having lots of other stuff thrown at me — I want to be able to get rid of the noise that is the book cover, blurb, price, etc. until it is relevant; yes, price is irrelevant until I actually know that I need to know what the price is.)
  • No branding clutter! (Why do we need to see the site’s branding everywhere? The SpringerAlerts page has the word “Springer” emblazoned across it 24 times — that’s a lot (4.87%) considering that the page only contains 493 words — including twice in the browser page title!)
  • No buttons! (If you’re going to link to information, don’t use buttons, use links, and — in the case of things like RSS — standardized symbols.)
  • Sites that work in Firefox (Again, I sound like a pedant, but I’d go as far as claiming that the majority of people who are interested in using advanced features of websites probably aren’t using any other browser, except maybe those “special interests” browser folk. They’re certainly not using Internet Explorer.)
  • Good lists with only relevant information returned from search
  • Site search, not just content search!
  • No login-in to get what other people give away freely! (Cambridge!)
  • Oh there’s more…

* Actually I’ve been hassling several publishers to get their online catalogues (especially new titles) into RSS feeds. The threshold for producing RSS feeds (even by hand!) is very low, and feeds make reviewing and maintaining an overview of what’s new a doddle. In fact, I would go as far as saying, if the publisher doesn’t have RSS feeds, they’re obviously not interested in selling to us, which means more money to Springer, MIT Press and CSLI!

** OK, unusual word, but I couldn’t think of anything that was equivalent to the Norwegian “vikar”.


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