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Archives & Museum Informatics
2000

 

Demonstrations

Restarting from scratch

Ian Edelman, Hampshire County Council Museums Service, United Kingdom

www.hants.gov.uk/museums

Session: Demo Session 2

Until 1998 Hampshire County Council Museums Service had eleven web pages on its museums containing no more than the very basic information as would be found on a small tourist leaflet. In addition there were, and still are, over 80,000 online pages of raw and unrefined data representing the collections database. The Museum Serviceís web site is part of Hantsweb, Hampshire County Councilís award winning site.

Gosport Museumís web site was developed as a pilot scheme to include information on the museum and its services, permanent displays and special exhibitions, collections, local history, online picture galleries, newsletters and low level interactives. Over 100 pages were initially created resulting the hit rate increasing from 25 per month to an average of 500 hits on the homepage each month and over 1,500 across the site.

Ian Edelman was appointed as departmental web manager and to be responsible for the creation of all the Museum Serviceís web pages, however this work has had to run concurrently with his post of Curator of Gosport Museum. Apart from the cost saving of undertaking the work in-house, it was also felt that a museum professional who was capable of good web design would be best placed to interpret and translate the various needs of the Museums Service into effective web pages.

The process of developing the web sites for the Museums Service and its constituent museums and historic sites is underway but the basic foundations blocks of a comprehensive site is very far from completed. Pilots schemes currently in progress include ways to improve online access to the collections and on-site webcam, and educational pages will follow.

Issues arising are that the Museums Service must now assess priorities for development with the knowledge that rapid progress without a dedicated member of staff will be difficult. Staff are having to address the additional workload in responding to higher levels of email, much of which is of a general nature and often not of direct relevance to the role of the Museums Service.

Feedback forms are used as an evaluation tool, particularly to find out why certain pages suddenly receive above average hits and for qualitative and quantitative comments from visitors.

The demonstration will explore the Museum Serviceís current web provision, look at web design options within the County Councilís corporate style guidelines and examine potential routes for future development and expansion.