Title:Pimp My Site Architecture: Reorganization and Usability Tools and Tactics to Reinvigorate Museum Web Sites on a Budget
Authors:Layla Masri, Emily Grossman
Publication:MW2010: Museums and the Web 2010

Last year, Bean Creative?s 2009 Museums & the Web mini-workshop, Pimp My Website, covered free and easy tools and tactics to redesign the look and functionality of museum sites. The recipient of that graphic facelift and tech tools, The Museum of Russian Art ( , won an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Interactive Media Awards in the Arts/Culture category as a result of the endeavor.

Building off the proven success of the 2008 approach and results, this year Bean Creative will focus on tips and techniques to analyze and rethink museums? site architecture, usability and organization.

Rearchitecting and reorganizing your site using the content you already have is a proven method to reengage visitors with your institution without having to go through the time, expense and effort of a full graphical redesign.

By demonstrating ways to refresh, enliven and optimize content for museum audiences, you make your content shine without a redesign.

Any time is a good time to optimize your site?s usability for your target audience ? even more so when the economic climate reduces budgets and staffing. Most institutions already have a wealth of legacy content that is still relevant and informative, but may not be organized or presented in a user-focused way that puts visitors? needs at the forefront.

In this mini-workshop, we will showcase a variety of methodologies that you can use in rearchitecting your museum?s site for maximum impact. We?ll focus tools and techniques that help museums ensure audience and site goals will be achieved, the content structure is clear and that you have accommodated the essential top-level information needs to be featured on main and tertiary site pages.

Starting with audience understanding and analysis, we?ll provide an overview of how to identify the needs and goals of diverse site visitors (researchers, teachers, students, parents, funders, etc.) to develop a comprehensive audience matrix, and explore different tactics that they take when exploring and searching for content of interest within your site.

Moving on to organizational tactics, we?ll demonstrate the benefits of card sorting ? a reliable, inexpensive method for finding patterns in how users would expect to find content or functionality using simple blank paper cards. Then we?ll explore the best options in navigation structure and menu systems that maximize usability and intuitive use.

Content reorganization strategies to be covered include how to create a content matrix that aligns with your site users, how to create and use content relationship flowcharts that map interconnections of and paths to site content, and the do?s and don?ts of developing and detailing wireframes to bring key content into focus with page placement and size relationships.

Finally, the mini-workshop will cover best-practices for when and how to paper prototype and test during the rearchitecting process.

As an added benefit, during the mini-workshop at the conference we will break session attendees into groups and guide them through a brief card sort exercise using a real museum website so they can practice and see the benefits for themselves.