At the beginning of 2014 we began a major reassessment of what we want our website to do, and we did this in the context of asking ourselves who is it for. This involved seeing our audience not as a homogenous bunch of “visitors”, differentiated only by demographic variables such as age and nationality. Understanding visitor motivation is a critical issue, and it is clear that for a satisfactory visit either to the Museum or its website we have to support visitors’ motivations and expectations. A searching analysis of our existing audience challenged our thinking on how best we might meet the needs of that audience online. We looked outwards at other websites for inspiration, looking for examples of best practice and examples of what we want to avoid. We looked at these from the perspectives of ease of navigation, how the content was handled, and visual attractiveness. We were highly conscious of the need to make the site easy to navigate and as uncluttered as possible, while at the same time not dumbing down the content.
We came up with a number of key objectives to guide us on the way:
- To showcase the KCM’s collection in a way that is accessible, inspiring, enjoyable and educational, and we want to make sure that this is not just a high-minded platitude
- To be cleanly designed and easy to navigate and that the commitment to accessibility extends to intellectual access
- To reflect the dynamic institution that the Museum has become, engaged with a variety of audiences
- To address the needs of visitors to the Museum and those who can’t or won’t come to the building but who will visit the website
- To acknowledge that it is not just about driving visits to the actual Museum but reflects the fact that the Museum is as much about the collection as it is about the building
We were very lucky to receive funding from the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under the Scheme to Assist Local and Regional Museums. This enabled us to secure the services of Kerrynet, and we think they have done a great job in providing us with a superbly designed website that reflects the dynamic institution that is KCM.