Title:So We’ve Got a Web Site, Now What?
Authors:Edward Rodley
Publication:MW99: Museums and the Web 1999

The Museum of Science, like many other institutions, jumped into the web business several years ago and launched a web site without a long-range plan or a dedicated web staff. Indeed, the institution’s site was created as an afterthought to a grant-funded project. Part of the Museum’s mission was to showcase new technologies, so in 1995 building a web site seemed a logical move that wouldn’t require much time or effort. Now after four years of slow, unmanaged growth we have a new issue facing us - an identity crisis. Just what is the purpose of the site? The cross-divisional steering committee, charged with overseeing the site, spent the better part of a year trying to answer that question. Our examination of the site\'s mission, both real and perceived, its audiences, and its potential to further the institution\'s goals was an often-painful, but rewarding, experience that has had tremendous positive influence on our web efforts. The paper explores and explains some of the results of long months of discussion, brainstorming, and argument. The title for the paper is \'So we\'ve got a web site, now what?\' and chronicles our efforts to bring the web into the institution\'s day-to-day operations as well as distribute the process of web content generation. A constant tension in our web efforts has been the perception that the web is somebody else\'s concern. Our small web staff is busy just trying to keep the current site running, let alone generate new content, so we have tried to minimize the burden of getting information onto the site by building processes to manage information inside the Museum and placing some of the burden on the content creators themselves. This paper is aimed at museums which have already launched their first-generation web sites and are grappling with the unglamorous but vital issues of maintenance, life-span of digital content (when is a web resource old?), ever-increasing demand for web content, and penetration of web technologies into other aspects of the institution (in intranets, on the exhibit halls, etc...)