Essentials for Museum Websites
As the saying goes, if you are not online, then you do not exist, however anymore, just being online is not good enough, because almost everyone is.
How can you set yourself apart from the competition? Follow these tips for museum websites, and soon, you will exist – at the top.
Put the key information on the homepage
So let us say it is President’s Day and the kids have off school. While little Johnny is screaming and bored and little Sarah is wailing because Johnny took her princess doll and threw it out in the snow, Mom sits with her tablet and decides that the kids need an excursion, so what does she do, she googles “museums near me” (likely she searches museums in Anytown, USA, but you get the point).
She clicks on the first one, maybe it is you, but she cannot find the hours and whether or not you are open on President’s Day, and if so, how much it will cost to bring her and her kids. She does not have time to look around and click through the web page; she hits her back arrow and is onto the next museum’s website.
The moral of the story – make sure the hours of your museum as well as which days you are open and closed are located prominently on your home page. People do not have time and patience; if the information they want is not where they want it, they are onto the next site.
Cater to your desired audience
Know who comes and enjoys your museum, as they are the people to whom you want to gear your website. Make sure that, if you want to attract retirees, you focus on items about which retirees care – handicap accessible, convenient parking and restrooms, discounts for senior citizens.
If, however, you want schools to bring a field trip, they do not care about senior discounts. Instead, focus on what chaperone ratios you require, that for every x students, y chaperones get a z% discount, where buses can park, what options there are for lunch. The bottom line – make sure that those who you want to attract will be attracted by your website.
Make it easy for the press
The adage goes that any press is good press. Consequently, if a reporter wants to cover your museum and your website is ill-equipped to foster such communication, your museum is not going to get any press.
One article comments that there was a “Time was when reporters could put in a call or send an email and wait for an answer from someone… anyone. That’s over. Chances are, if I can’t get a name and contact point on your website, I’m moving on to the next museum.”
Sophisticated and functional museum websites will either have media contact information located on the homepage, or will have a “media page” centrally located in the main navigation on which not only is there information on how the press should contact your museum (a name, that person’s title, phone number, and email – i.e. John Smith, Communications Consultant, 555-5555, email@example.com), but you should also have a link to archived press releases; every press release you have issued since the advent of the digital age should be included as a PDF for media reference.
Be inviting, but not too inviting
Obviously, if you are an art gallery, you want to include information and pictures depicting your collection, and if you feature civil war artifacts, you want to give a teaser of what you have, however that is all you want to give – a teaser.
Do not give so much information that people no longer feel the need to come in and visit – too much description is one of the biggest pitfalls of museum websites. Be inviting, but not too inviting – you still want visitors to come in for a visit.
The essentials for museum websites include solid teasing, understanding your audience, easy media relations, and most importantly, prominent inclusion and location of the essentials of your museum including hours and admission prices.
Of course, these are just the basics – there is a lot that can be done with a museum website, and M Street has ample experience in building websites.
Contact us today if you are ready to take your museum’s website to the next level.
About M Street
M Street, LLC is an established, full-service web development and marketing agency providing fresh, inspired service to our clients. We are an agile web design agency based in Lancaster PA. Our team of web development professionals specializes in creating, developing, and maintaining your website to maximize your company's potential to attract and serve your target customer, in this case, your target visitor.