Title:Towards New Metrics of Success for Online Museum Projects
Authors:Sebastian Chan
Publication:MW2008: Museums and the Web 2008

All over the world museum Web site visitation is growing as better access and faster speeds increase Internet traffic to all categories of Web sites. Museums are increasingly experimenting with and implementing more interactive services on their own Web sites, and also decentralising their on-line 'brand' into a multiplicity of social networking sites and services, as well as virtual worlds.

This increased environmental complexity makes the traditional Web analytics and metrics that museums have used to measure and track success on the Web for the past decade increasingly inadequate. Occasional user surveys and server-side log analysis can no longer be relied upon by Web teams to guide them towards making museum sites more user-centric and effective. This is complicated further by the greater and greater proportion of on-line museum visitors entering the sites via a search engine. Whilst basic reporting currently satisfies government and sometimes corporate benefactors, far more complex analysis is required for museums themselves to more effectively evaluate and refine their on-line offerings for their users.

This paper argues that museums must take another look at their analytics tools and methods. It calls for a new approach and examines new ways of measuring the use of on-line museum projects and Web sites. It looks at the new range of analysis tools available to Web teams and, referencing the broader segmentation work of Peacock and Brownbill (2007), proposes practical ways a segmented approach can work for museums of all sizes. It proposes that museums need to take stock of their comparative positioning in each of these segments, rather than use raw figures.

Drawing upon search engine optimisation techniques and demand-side competitive ISP-level intelligence, it combines these with new site-specific techniques to allow museums to better learn how their existing users behave on their Web sites, as well as to identify the potential audience for their offerings, one that is currently untapped.

(This paper is intended to accompany a practical workshop which demonstrates, with examples, many of the concepts and techniques described within.)