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Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

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Fri 30 Mar 2007

What did a $30,000 five-month Web site audience research project reveal?

Category : museum

This is an interesting read for museum web designers.

When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) decided to redesign their website, they decided to shift their primary focus from a visual aspect to a user-centered Web design. They decided that "understanding [their] target audience was [the] number-one priority" and comissioned a $30,000 five-month Web site audience research project in order to answer a series of questions.

Amongst the things they learnt:

  • "Surveys and interviews revealed that site visitors included everyone from human resource managers to engineers."
  • 'The majority of users weren't art professionals but had a strong interest in learning about art; they also wanted the human story behind the art: who is this artist, in other words, and why should I care? They want someone or something to connect with as an entry point rather than a more technical or art-historical presentation.'
  • "Help me find what I need." - on the webpage.
  • "Help me plan my trip."

With regards to Web 2.0, the authors say that

"...the users interviewed were fairly passive about the types of interactive things they would like to do. Instead of asking an artist a question, they would rather read what other people asked. Instead of giving feedback about an exhibition, they would rather read what other people wrote."

The entire paper is online, see Mitroff, D. & K. Alcorn, 2007. "Do you know who your users are? The role of research in redesigning" In: J. Trant & D. Bearman (eds,), "Museums and the Web 2007: Proceedings." Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics, published March 31, 2007 at

Posted at 4:10AM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .