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Web design borrows from psychology and sociology and is guided by usability and accessibility.

The St. Thomas Libraries strives to make user-centered, relevant content accessible on multiple platforms.

Designs change over time to keep pace with current aesthetics and mental models. As populations evolve so must the website.

Welcome to v20!

Starting November 2020 new and existing guides will have the option of using the new St. Thomas Libraries LibGuides v20 format.

This guide is an example of that format.

The format includes:

  • Top or Side navigation
  • Side navigation with 1 or 2 content columns
  • Automatic Librarian Profile box on every page in the guide (optional)



Many of the design choices were based on usability and accessibility guidelines. High contrast colors, using colors and icons to identify interactive elements, and a larger font size.

The tabs, accordions, carousel, search, and other interactive elements were created using accessible design methods.

It is important to note, that while the font size of page content increased by just a little, it was enough to bring us into compliance. We may need to increase the font size a little more down the road.

Future Changes

Version 20 is considered complete, however things may be tweaked depending upon future user studies and accessibility guidelines. As populations evolve so must the website.

Getting Started with v20

To utilize the new style, you will need to do two things:

  1. Assign your guide to the Group "Stage"

  2. Apply a navigation layout that starts with the name "Guides-v20-"

Assign guide to Staging group

First, we'll need to assign existing guides and new guides to the Staging group. This is temporary and does not change where your guide will show up on the main screen or in searches.

If your guide is already a member of a different group (Law or DFC) then coordinate the change with Chad as the whole group will need to be updated at once.

Change an Existing Guide

Go into your guide editor and find Type/Group at the top of the editor page. Assign the guide to the Staging group.

Once you have assigned your guide to the Staging group you are ready to choose a template.

Create a new Guide

Create a guide as you normally would but assign it to the Staging group by going to Type/Group at the top of the editor page.

Once you have assigned your guide to the Staging group you are ready to choose a template.

Choose a layout

When editing the page, go to the image icon and choose Guide Navigation Layout.

You have several options for a layout, including those that will automatically add your librarian profile box to each page in the guide.

Please note: If you plan on reusing content boxes from another guide, they will display in the new guide's format. If you plan on reusing a page from another guide in your guide the layouts will need to match (side navigation to side navigation or top navigation to top navigation). If you try to include a side navigation page in your top navigation site it will not work (Springshare limitation). Instead, you can create a page and reuse individual content boxes from the other page.


  • It is recommended that you don't change the font size or color of your text as it may cause accessibility issues.
  • Try to utilize the standard HTML formatting options such as bold, and stay away from underlines.
  • Make use of headings to break up content within a content box.
  • Make sure your images have relevant alt tags.

Stop Here

At this point, you may want to give your brain a rest and become familiar with the new styles and layouts before diving deeper. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via Email or Teams.

Page Order

When developing your guides it is important to note the order items will appear on your page when viewing on a mobile device.

In multi-column layouts everything will appear in a single column which the user will scroll through. Therefore it is important to note that column 1 will come first, column 2 will come second, and column 3 will come last.

Make sure that you have content in a logical order. Just because the center column is large, doesn't mean it will show to users first. If your most important information is in that column, you may want to choose a different layout that allows your most important information to be in your prominent column on both mobile and desktop devices.

You can test this out by resizing your browser window so that it is narrow.


The new style takes advantage of larger font size (16px) which is recommended for accessibility and usability, not just for users with low vision, but for all users.

Also, be sure to supply an appropriate alt tag to images. If the image is for decorative purposes only, you may leave the alt tag blank.

LibGuides has many accessibility features built-in, and as we develop additional widgets such as accordions and carousels, we are making sure to incorporate accessible features there as well.

Learn more about Featuring guides.

Accordions and FAQs

You now have the option of adding Accordions and FAQs to your LibGuides. These can even pull in FAQs from LibAnswers.

The HTML code you will need to add is kept simple, but it is recommended that you be able to understand and edit HTML before using.

Learn more about Accordions and FAQs.

Guide Type

If your guide is specific to a class or course, the guide type should be "Course"

You should refrain from using the subject of "Course guides" as that will be retired.

At this time do not worry about General, Subject, or Topics. Use these as you have in the past. We'll organize and define these terms at a later date.


Choose the subject that most relates to your course or guide.

The subject list is currently long so we need to be careful about adding new subjects, especially subjects that only contain one or two guides.

We will tackle subjects at a later time. However, you'll notice 3 new, special subjects:

  • How-To
  • Community
  • Featured

If you list a guide in the Featured subject, it will appear in the Featured section of the LibGuides homepage. If you list a guide as "How-To" it will appear in the How-To section.

Please do not list a guide in all possible subjects that it might seem fit to be included. It should only be a member of the primary subject. If it covers more than 2 subjects it might be best to be broken up, re-written, or listed under a more general subject like How-To or Community.

Guides of type "Course" should not be listed under Community or How-To.

Featured Guides

You can feature a guide on the Research Guides homepage by assigning it to the Featured subject. It is also recommended that you submit an image to go with it.

Learn more about Featured guides.

Your Librarian

Profile Photo
Chad Kluck
O'Shaughnessy-Frey Library | LIB 207