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The library as town center for young and old

West Bend Community Memorial Library is making inroads by "nerding out" with events and programs and a website for all ages.


West Bend Community Memorial Library (WBCML) is at the heart of a large small town in the heartland near Milwaukee. The people of WBCML have a history for fierce independence, a delightful nerdiness that draws people in, and connects with patrons of all ages and types. WBCML has specialized collections for a variety of audiences including a makerspace and a surprisingly good anime section. We adore the librarians we work with there because they're so unique and they're so involved with their patrons. The library itself is quite new, includes local artwork and meeting spaces and study spaces, all the amenities that help a library be the center of a community.


Each library we work with is different with unique focuses, audiences, collections and spaces. We start projects with a deep look into audiences and their needs (use cases), and the content they'd want to see, and the goals we have for them, like knowing about events, using the community rooms, the makerspace, the unique collections, etc. Creating these lists by audience helps the library and Byte's team put a patron's face to the need, and helps expand the lists to include more people and more needs. We use these to help understand what content should be developed in the long term.

Once we have a good sense of the current and potential future content, we do a sitemap phase to help abstract sitemap ideas into different themes. Sitemaps themes follow users, programs, common use cases or the old fashioned about / our collection / our services, etc. Often times the old fashioned wins, but taking the deeper dive into this abstraction helps everyone think though the best way to communicate the content.

From there we created wireframes to explore content, and then we created designs to match and push the brand to the wireframes. We created multiple designs to explore different visual themes, including colors, fonts, iconography and other visual styles. Once those were decided upon and approved, our development team created the site and built the content management to fit with their styles and content needs. We worked with the LIS provider to try to find more relevant data, but only the provider could only offer a new materials feed, so we built the system to import that and put it onto the home page.


We put a lot of work into secondary brand elements, especially the boxes that make up the headlines and headers for buckets and other on-page elements. We also took a second design pass a couple months in to clean up all the issues that came up during moving in all the content. WBCML added and updated a lot of content, and the wear on the site was noticeable, solving issues before the staff even noticed them.

header from at the library page