March 22-25, 2006
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Interactions: Description

Building a Robust and Fully-Integrated Web Program

Matthew MacArthur, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, USA

The Web Program at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History began with one overworked part-time staffer and a shoestring budget. Ten years later, the New Media office is an integral part of the museum, partnering with staff across the organization to produce award-winning content for the Web and other forms of electronic outreach. While some aspects of this change were surely inevitable due to the rise of the Internet, it is also partly the result of a focused effort to understand and advocate the role of the Web and related technologies within the museum. This paper will examine the history of the program, the strategies employed in a recent Web redesign, and ways the museum has been able to accomplish more with limited resources. The museum Web site has grown from a few crude HTML pages to a resource with thousands of pages and millions of visits per year. Each iteration of the site has grown more sophisticated, while becoming more responsive to the needs and habits of users. At the same time, the way that the Web site is staffed and managed has also become more sophisticated. By promoting the site internally, planning wisely, and distributing the effort, the museum has been able to boost its on-line productivity and to think more creatively about the role of the Web in accomplishing the museum's mission.

Mini-Workshop: Ten Steps ... [Management]

Keywords: Web site administration, staffing, redesign, marketing