Dear ALA’s Member Participation task force,
I am happy you have a blog. I am happy that its URL is fairly short. It’s very attractive. However I think one way that you could help members participate would be to make the links in some way distinct from the text that surrounds it. They are, on my monitor, the exact same color and boldness as the text around them. The underline only shows up when you hover over the link making using your blog an experiment in hide and seek. Usually links are indicated by a distinct color, an underline (not just a hover underline) or by being in bold when the surrounding text is plain. Using two out of three of these increases usability dramatically.
Two other smaller points which are more a matter of personal preference.
- Usually titles of blog posts link to the post on a page by itself with the comments underneath, a permalink. The blogging software you use does not do this. This is not necessarily a problem, but it is non-standard and might confuse people. One of the great benefits of blogging is that it allows people to use a user interface that does not change much from blog to blog. You might want to consider configuring your blog to work the way most blogs work.
- Linking to Word documents is a less than optimal way to get your message across. While I think allowing people to look at a Word document with “track changes” turned on is a neat way to show the evolution of a document, it relies on a proprietary piece of software that people may not have (or Open Office if they are savvy enough to use it) and makes the information contained in the linked document unavailable to search engines and posterity except for the pull-quote you provide. It also increases download times for people on dial-up which is a non-inconsiderate amount of ALA members. Consider making the text of documents you describe available in some way that is more findable and usable to the widest range of people. While I wish it were not the case, ALA member are not always the most tech savvy people around and anything we can do to encourage their participation is a good thing.