Good news for regular readers, as we can finally announce one of the secret projects that we have been hinting about for the last few weeks. We’re delighted to be working with SFMOMA on the evaluation of their first online collections catalogue, the Rauschenberg Research Project. The project marks a bold move in scholarly publishing, presenting online nearly 90 works by Robert Rauschenberg from the museum’s permanent collection, alongside essays, images, videos and research materials.
Laura and Alyson kicked the project off last week and it’s already posing some interesting problems – not least, how to evaluate an essentially academic tool. Many of our traditional conceptions of audience and impact have gone out the window, and we’re having to find ways to answer some very fiddly questions: Is an online catalogue viewed as a permanent contribution to scholarship? Are academics using the catalogue for research, and how? Is the catalogue reaching any unexpected audiences? Measuring these sorts of things will be a great challenge, and one we hope to tell you more more about as the project unfolds.
Back on the other side of the pond, Lindsey has had plenty to puzzle over having started a short piece of work with the EU. We’re advising on a piece of service design at the House of European History (a new museum set to open in Brussels in 2015), helping the web team think about how they can support the handheld guide. This involves looking at the before, during and after of visitors’ experiences of the museum – a challenging task for many organisations, but one which is particularly difficult for brand new museums without an audience to watch and talk to.
As at Lincoln Castle, our approach involves applying user personas, but this time in a different way. Instead of creating user scenarios from our personas, we’ll be carrying out User Journey Mapping (there’s a nice overview and a couple of examples here) to look at the whole service from the moment a visitor thinks about taking a trip to a museum, to the end of their interaction with it. By considering all these different moments we think the team will be able to make decisions and test ideas about the guide that focus on the user.