Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


Design, Navigation and Content

Jim Spadaccini , The Exploratorium, USA

Session: Design and Navigation of Museum Web Sites

In developing online museum resources, much of the focus is on creating compelling content -and rightly so. However, appealing graphics and thoughtful navigation schemes can go a long way toward improving the user's experience. Too many sites with great content fall flat when it comes to graphics, diminishing their impact for visitors or even worse, turning them away in the first place. Also, sites without clear navigation can leave visitors frustrated and feeling lost.

What makes good design and sensible navigation? The answer is complex and subjective, but some approaches are more effective than others. Developing the graphics in concert with the content (or, at the very least, developing a deep understanding of the content) is vital to creating an integrated site. Letting the subject matter of the site "decide" the design and, in some cases, assist in the development of the navigation scheme, seems to be effective. Also, understanding how the site will be used can further refine it's look and help define it's navigation. Finally, attention to detail, along with adherence to the rigorous technical limitations of the Web, must be addressed in developing sites that incorporate effective design and navigation schemes.


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