Museums and the Web 1999

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Published: March 1999.


End Users in the Design Process: Analysis of the Integration of the Human Factors in MusInfo

Isabelle Naef Galuba , Musées d'art et d'histoire de Genève, Switzerland

Session: End Users

The Musées d'art et d'histoire of the city of Geneva began to register and manage their collections electronically in 1971. Today, the Musées d'art et d'histoire are participating in MusInfo : the information system for the museums of the city of Geneva ( MusInfo's goals are to allow scientific and administrative management of the collections, public access and information sharing. A Web interface gives on-line access to the databases from the WWW. In 1999 we plan to offer a progressive public availability of the collections through the WWW.

In twenty-seven years of computerizing the collections, we faced many obstacles. In addition to the technical, conceptual and organizational questions whose impact we can now measure, the importance of the human factor was minimized for a long time. Only since 1990 has the end user been involved in the whole process. This mini-workshop will show the issues attributed to the human relations in building the MusInfo project and will discuss and try to evaluate the results. How can different people collaborate while making an information system to manage and to exploit collections through the WWW?

Computer scientists, designers, curators, registrars, and information officers have to work together in different stages of a project. But the critical issue, overall, is listening to the end user, the person who's going to use the application tools after the project's completion. Project management which organises time schedules, the choice of participants and subjects for the working-meetings is not sufficient. To develop a better synergy and enthusiasm during several months and at times several years, the participants have to know, to understand each other. It is necessary to manage with a psychological point of view in order to prevent human relations problems which could delay the project and could even cause it to fail. We are attempting to set a kind of methodology to localise problem's sources and give them a solution. In order to learn from our experience we collected questions, remarks, suggestions by participants in the project. Finally we investigated more deeply asking that people to fill a form based on the theme of human relations. We hope to teach the people attending our workshop: why, when and what for we asked the end user to work in the project; how to share different points of view trying to find a pertinent compromise. We will present the results of the feedback form which revealed the point of view of the museum's director, the administrative director, the curator, the computer scientists and many end users or future end users.