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Research Guides: Guidelines for Creating/Revising Guides: Use the Correct Content Box

Tips, suggestions, templates and best practices for creating libguides

Use the Correct Content Box

Standard box

The standard box should be used in most cases.  The remaining three boxes should be used for special cases where their functionality is required.

Tabbed box

The tabbed box should be used to group related content and save space on the guide.  The ultimate outcome should be identical for each tab, such as a tab for “Find Books”, a tab for “Find Articles”, and a tab for “Find Research Guides”.  The tabs are related because the outcome is the same:  The user learns how to find something.

Tabbed boxes should not be used to group nonrelated content or content that have very different outcomes.  It does not make sense, for example, to group “Welcome”, “Databases”, and “Leave Feedback” even if it does save space on the guide.  Saving space on the guide does not necessarily make it easier for the user.

If you have content that is interdependent, do not split it up among tabs.  For example, do not put instructions in one tab and a screenshot that illustrates the instructions in another tab.  Making the user continually toggle between tabs should be avoided.

Gallery box

The gallery box is used to build image slide shows and should be used sparingly.  There are a few usability concerns surrounding this kind of content.

  • If a gallery box is at top of your guide, you're forcing users to scroll to get to important content.
  • Moving elements in a page reduces overall usability:
    • Some users have motor skill issues - meaning they can't click on an image before it rotates to the next.
    • Low-literacy users may need more time to read information on an image or slide.
    • Non-native speakers may need more time to read information as well.
  • Gallery boxes increase load time.

A reusable alternative to the Gallery Box is to create a standard box and insert a Media/Widget asset into your guide.  Insert the following code into the Embed Code box:

<img src="image_url">

Where image_url is the URL to the image you’d like to use.

When using the gallery box,

Use images that are the same size.  Images of different sizes will continuously resize the box which could temporarily displace other content.  This will make other content difficult to read.

Use the lowest resolution that still looks good.  All gallery images will be downloaded by users upon page load.  Users on slow connections such as smart phones will have to wait for all the images to load while cellular data users will have the size of the images count against their data plans.

Do not obscure the image navigation.  The gallery box overlays your images with navigation circles and arrows.  These navigation elements are usually white.  If your images are light-colored in the areas where the navigation is overlaid, the navigation elements will seem to disappear.

Do not put the gallery box in a spot that distracts from the rest of the guide.  The image gallery auto-scrolls through the images.  This can be very distracting to someone reading the rest of the guide.  Unless you have very good reason to do so, do not put gallery boxes at the top of the guide.

Label and caption your images wisely.  Be aware of the amount of time that each image is shown before it automatically slides to the next image.  Don’t use a caption that cannot be read in the amount of time that the image is shown.

Please note that a gallery box is not the same thing as a video or other moving image.  Videos do not resize boxes or have the navigation issues associated with the gallery box, and therefore do not present any of the above issues.

Profile box

The profile box inserts the profile for a contact librarian.  In guides that have more than one author, more than one profile can be attached to a guide.  Avoid putting more than two profile boxes on a guide as the guides become unnecessarily long and it becomes difficult for the user to determine which author to contact.

If contact information for more than two people must be put in a guide, use a Rich Text box instead to list the contact information for each person.  Be clear in indicating which contact should be contacted for which reasons.