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Redeveloping your Museum website? Here’s some common reasons for doing so

Redeveloping a museum website is a big project and not something that any museum approaches without good reason.

But with constant change both in our museums and on the web. There comes a time that every website needs to be refreshed. 

There are six common reasons for redeveloping your museum website, in this article I’ll discuss them:

Dated Design 

The most common reason for a museum website to be redesigned is that it is visually dated. 

This is often because the organisation is making wider changes to the way that its brand is communicated, perhaps with a new museum logo, colour palette and visual style.

However, this isn’t always the case. 

Our audiences are constantly experiencing great digital design, from the latest apps to well-known websites. 

This sets a high bar for museums. And having a dated website design that hasn’t been updated in a decade won’t convey the right messages about your organisation.

 

Above: V&A website in 2007 and 2020


Users are confused by your navigation

Having a museum website that is easy for users to navigate is essential. If visitors can’t find the information that they need quickly, they might never return.

Perhaps you’ve had feedback that museum visitors are struggling to find what they need on your website, or maybe priorities are changing and signposting certain content is now a priority.

Whatever the case, clear navigation is a must.  

Not accessible

Your museum has a legal obligation to make information accessible to those with visual impairments. Most websites developed within the last decade will have been built with this in mind, but a few outliers still exist.

Making a website accessible for those using screen readers or wishing to adjust the size of fonts is not just a moral obligation, it makes good commercial sense as this group is much bigger than one might imagine.

Not optimised for mobile devices

In the fourth quarter of 2019, the amount of global internet traffic coming from mobile devices was 52.6%. 

With more people browsing the web from smartphones and tablets, the need to design for these users has also increased. 

Optimising for mobile makes the user experience better for visitors, and makes information about your museum accessible to more people.

It’s also something that Google expects. 

Mobile optimisation is a ranking factor on the search giant, and if your website doesn’t perform well on smartphones, it may not show up in searches.

Long Load Times

Another potential sign that your website needs to be redesigned is long load times, this can happen for many reasons.

Often the images have not been compressed for the web, and on slower internet connections or mobile devices this can impact the speed at which the site loads.

Older websites are often built in a way which made sense when they were made, but now is slowing down the entire website.

Speed matters. Research studies have found that the longer a website takes to load, the greater the chance of a user clicking away to something else.

Speed is also now thought to be a ranking factor on Google, with the search engine prioritising those website that load faster.  

Your Website isn’t making any money

Earning revenue for the museum through online ticket sales or an online shop isn’t something that all museums want to do.

However, this is increasingly a priority when museum websites are being redeveloped. 

Another consideration is online donations. If you’re building your new museum website on WordPress, the GiveWP plugin makes it easy for you to accept donations.

In Conclusion

Most museums should expect to refresh their websites at least every five years to keep pace with technology and design aesthetic. 

But there are lots of reasons to consider redeveloping your museum website. From planning through to launch it’s a big project, so be sure that you have the time and money to tackle it properly, and get your team onboard. 

About the author – Jim Richardson

Jim Richardson is the founder of MuseumNext. He has worked with the museum sector on innovation projects for more than twenty years and now splits his time between delivering consultancy, innovation workshops and keynote presentations.

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