Saturday 1 December 2012

UK Museums on the Web 2012

Having spent a fantastic day at the Museums Computer Group's UK Museums on the Web 2012 yesterday, I wanted to post a summary of the things that I think were the key lessons from the day.

One of the overwhelming themes of the day certainly seemed to be the importance of mobile in any digital application; apps and web sites. The repeated message of the massive surge in digital use on mobile (some quoted it as up 40% on last year, others even more) was given extra weight by the very interesting fact that if your website doesn't render well on mobile, Google won't rank your page in their site results. For these reasons, the V&A now won't consider any digital project unless it will work on a mobile phone.

Some of the most interesting thoughts came not out of the presentations but out of the short question and answer sessions afterwards. My favourite of these was the reminder of the importance of listening to your statistics and evaluations and acting accordingly; don't imagine what your audience wants - find out and do it, even if it seems counter intuitive to what you think they want. You are not your audience, after all!

Evaluation was another key topic, especially the importance of continuous evaluation rather than a final end of project document which is sent to funders and then ignored. We should see the launch of a project as a beginning, not an end, and expect every project to need continuous improvement and evolution throughout its life. This is, obviously, rather at odds with the nature of most project funding which tends to see a launch as the goal to which we all aim, and it was suggested that we probably should be looking at ways to change this results-driven culture of funding. Not that anyone was sure how, exactly, and neither am I; answers on a postcard if you have any ideas!

Impact was also a key topic, from Simon Tanner in particular, though various speakers touched on the idea. Doing something nice, he said, isn't impact; it's marketing. True impact is about changing lives, and he was quick to remind us that we should consider all our impacts, the bad and the good, and not view our projects and indeed daily activity with rose-tinted glasses. Impact can be measurable, such as financial gain, and it can be idealistic, such as the perceived value our institutions have for the people of a place simply by existing. He also reminded us that our projects don't just have impacts on our stakeholders; they can impact us, too, and that should be considered when planning and evaluating projects. And finally on this topic; just because a resource is viewed doesn't mean it is having an impact. Looking at something can be passive - just think how many TV adverts you watch, compared to how many you pay attention to!

Tom Grinstead from the Guardian talked about segmenting mobile audiences not by the device they use, but by their motivations and actions. In particular, he was talking about the different times of day that people access the news, and that they have different reasons for wanting to know what's going on in the world, depending on the time of day. More generally, I think this is an important lesson for all of us. If we think not about the type of person that is visiting us (in terms of their socio-economic background or ethnicity or age) but instead about what their motivations are, then perhaps we can start to think about how we can develop new 'products' which fulfill those needs, rather than getting stuck on what we think they might want - it comes back again to the importance of using your evaluations and statistics rather than just assuming you know what they want.

In all, it was a fantastic day with some brilliant speakers and some insightful questions from the audience. It was particularly good to follow along with the conversation that was happening on twitter at the #ukmw12 hashtag and join in, of course! I look forward to next year.

No comments:

Post a Comment