Title:More Than the Sum of Its Parts: Pulling Together User Involvement in a Museum Website
Authors:Gail Durbin
Publication:MW2010: Museums and the Web 2010

Experimenting with social media? Asked for some user generated content? Tested out a forum? Cracked on-line sales? Got coherence and clarity?The V&A has a long history of inviting people to add content to its Web site. From creating posters and replicating the Christine Keeler portrait in the 1990s, through Tattoos, to the current World Beach Project and Wedding Fashion sites, we have always tried to be true to our founding principle of encouraging creativity and involvement. We engage with our visitors also by inviting them to download high resolution images, buy tickets and publications, respond to polls, attend events, and visit us on YouTube and other sites and comment. In theory, some of these are two-way transactions, but the reality is different ,and what we have in the way of user generated content is quite disparate. You could say we have creativity without community; contribution without coherenceThis year the time came for a review. We have put a lot of energy into thinking how we might pull these interactions together to create greater involvement for our visitors and a clearer picture for us of our users and their needs. Approaches have varied through forming an on-line research group, upgrading our blogs, crowdsourcing photo crops on our new object database, through to building visitor profiles to collect and repurpose contributions. Drawing both on the experience of participants and on lessons from the V&A, this workshop will suggest ways of working with visitors to create increased community and coherence. The workshop will include practical activity; no technical expertise is required. Participants should leave with ideas they might put into practice in their own museum.