Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites

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Information about Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites

Published on November 7, 2008

Author: maxdesign

Source: slideshare.net


The Australian Museum recently implemented a number of open-communication devices such as commenting, tags, user-generated content to their website. Integrating these devices on large, existing websites is not easy task. The diversity of audience, as well as indexing large amounts of existing data presents a number of challenges, however with more customers expecting an open information ecosystem more large sites are adding these tools. This presentation looks at some of the trials and tribulations that arose during the integration - information that can help other organisations embarking on a similar projects.

boundaries on content-rich websites pushing the

My name’s Russ

I work at the Australian Museum in Sydney

… which is located on the evil side of Australia

I’m going to tell you a story about the Australian Museum’s new website

… which will go live in March 2009 - four years after it was first conceived

For some of you, the ideas discussed here will not be new

Hopefully some of our experiences may be interesting or useful

Not all projects are fast. But you can still get there!

a background

The Museum’s website was first created in 1994

The first major version was launched in 1997

Since then, the site has grown enormously…

Currently around 43,000 pages and 16 sites

trouble in paradise

The situation has gradually deteriorated over the last few years

Harder to maintain

Users cannot find content in the site easily

Traffic is gradually levelling off

Users can interact elsewhere more easily

The Museum website is not as relevant any more

time for a change?

Four years ago we went to management with an idea

To build a rich, interactive website

Focusing on four key interaction objectives :

1. Allow authors to communicate more directly and immediately

2. Allow users to communicate with Museum staff and each other

3. Allow users to interact with our content in a variety of ways

4. Allow users to share their own content

What did management think of our idea ?

Initially, there was some reluctance, but now everyone is on board !

how to implement?

There are two main approaches to implementing interactivity on a website

Approach 1: Small steps and test the water

Approach 2: Major overhaul of the entire site

In most cases, “sm all steps” are preferred

You can add components to an existing website without major work

You can test the impact of these changes and adjust as needed

Users can gradually adapt as the site changes


We chose the “ma jor overhaul” approach

Reason 1: Because our current site has so many issues …

Reason 2: The major overhaul will allow us to create an integrated system

Integrated system: allows authors to publish all content via one simple system

Integrated system: allows users to move seamlessly through any type of content

what to implement?

We need a wiki!

It’s very easy to be attracted to features for the wrong reasons

We didn’t want the site to become just a bunch of cool tools

So, during planning, we asked some key questions

Question 1: Will it match our aims and objectives ?

Question 2: Will it add value for users ?

Question 3: Will the feature fill a need ?

Question 4: What are the implications ?

Each feature of our new website has been debated and fought over

Nothing was added simply b e cause it’s cool

how will it work?

The overall site

Every piece of content will be an asset - no more “web pages”

content movies audios events documents…

Users can interact with any asset

share user-content add comments save favourites create sets add tags

What’s in it for users

Comment on any asset


Add tags to any asset


User tags will provide new methods of navigation and richer search

Collect favourites


Create favourite sets and share these sets with others


Upload their own content

images movies audios stories


Apply for expert status

help monitor answer questions encourage discussion create content

What’s in it for staff

Every staff member will become an author

Publish assets directly (after training)

Own their assets

Create their own focused, passionate and personal blogs

Microblog instant news

Social tools

Our team’s role will expand from content creation to content distribution and success tracking

Twitter, Facebook etc used to broadcast content as well as promote content

Video/audio housed on our site but also pushed out to variety of other sites (via tubemogul etc)

possible issues?

During planning we uncovered many questions and concerns

Hopefully these may help you if you’re in a similar situation …

Should staff be allowed to publish directly to the site ? In our case - YES 1

Should we have one voice ? - single corporate voice for some assets - different voices for types of assets - individual voices for blogs 2

Will we moderate user comments and tags? - no, we will use a simple login - then allow all comments tags 3

What if information in comments in wrong ? - authors can comment with authority - experts can step in and correct - community can eventually self-moderate 4

What if a tag seems irrelevant ? - every tag is sacred. - we have no right to judge tag relevance - tags are personal expressions 5

Will we be overwhelmed with questions via comments? - we wish! - we will have to work hard for every comment. - we will also have to accept that commenting may not happen in the way we envisage 6

Will comments occur more frequently on certain types of assets? - yes, we believe so. - blogs are more personal so commenting may be seen as easier. - a lot of this will come down to management of comments. 7

How will we measure success ? - goes way beyond tracking hits and normal stats - internally tracking comments, tags, members, search terms - external search terms - inbound links - tracking social tools such as twitter tracking, feedburner, technorati etc 8

How will we build communities ? In site - comment answering - encouraging feedback and sharing - eventually letting go Out of site - go to other places and let them know - use social distribution tools twitter - push out to niche bloggers etc Start with lots of hard work and encouragement. Gradually pull back. Eventually self-moderate. 9

lessons learned?

The journey has been slow and painful

However, it’s also been lots of fun

If you are about to take the journey…

Make sure the features you add have a purpose

Think about all the possible issues before you start

thank you

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