Museum of Life and Science State of the Web


Published on

A presentation of projects I've worked on in my first year as Director of Web Experience at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC.

Published in: Business, Education
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • The above graphs chart visits to in the last six months (November 2008 through May 2009) on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Visits have increased 30.54% when compared with site traffic from November 2007 through May 2008. The thick blue line indicates the current year, the thin green line indicates previous year.
  • Continuing to chart visits over the last six months (compared to the prior year), the first graph on this slide charts what time people visit our website through the course of a day (again, the thick blue line is current year, thin green line is previous year). The second chart, a map of NC and surrounding states, shows where those visitors are geographically located, along with pointing out how many visits we’re receiving from surrounding states and how much that number has changed when compared with the same time period a year ago.
  • Note: The data for this slide is January 1, 2008 through April 27, 2009 (15 months), whereas the previous slides were from November 2008 through May 2009 (6 months). Digging deeper into our visitors, this slide focuses on where they’re coming from. We receive the majority of our visits from Google search (155,412 visits in 15 months of traffic), direct access (66,123 visits) and Yahoo search (18,297 visits). After that, but before referrals from the Durham Visitors Bureau, NC Museum Council, Southern Bride and Groom, Craigslist, our eNewsleter and VisitNC, comes “Web 2.0” traffic. This traffic includes referrals from blogs and social networks, but DOES NOT INCLUDE traffic from any Museum blogs or social networking accounts. So, someone who posted a video on YouTube of their visit is represented, but referrals from our own YouTube channel are not (same goes for Twitter, Blogspot, Flickr and Facebook). “Web 2.0” Traffic ranks fourth in referring visits our way, with 53% of that traffic belonging to Mommy Bloggers who blog about their visits (or 2,707 visits). You can see how the blogs/networks breakout in the treemap on the right.
  • We have hundreds of people sending us thousands of visits… what do we know about them? What are they saying about us? We use the social bookmarking tool,, to index every mention of the Museum that we can find through Google Web/Blog/News Search and other similar services (like TweetBeep for Twitter). The growing collection of these mentions (there have been over 700 in 10 months time) allow us to sort the links by contributor (e.g. mommy vs daddy vs press), content (e.g. pictures vs video), platform (blogspot vs wordpress vs moveable type), and exhibit (farmyard vs butterflies vs soundspace). We can also take an output of the data however we’ve slided it (pictures from mommy bloggers of the farmyard, for example) and visualize it. The above wordcloud is a visualization of all top 100 most used words by our mommy bloggers. From Delicious, we are also able to auto-tweet @momalert and @dadalert anytime a mom or dad blogs about the Museum (so that other moms and dads who blog can be notified) and we receive a daily email with all of our mentions (bottom right).
  • Our Museum’s use of Twitter is still very much in a formative stage. We have nearly 1400 followers (up a hundred since this slide was created a couple weeks ago) and over 300 updates. We’ve live-tweeted an animals arrival to the Museum, a hurricane passing through town, a daily program from an animal keeper. We also have conversations and spend a lot of time watching for tweets about us in the Twitterverse. Recently, we’ve made the decision to only follow local tweeple, that way
  • The Museum hosts four institutional blogs: The Animal Department, Explore the Wild Greg Dodge Journal, Useum: User Generated Museums, and Science Educators Resource Center. This chart shows traffic in terms of pageviews for each blog since its launch (Animal Keepers launched to a beta group prior to its public launch and therefore does not have a similar ramp up period. The pie charts indicate what share of pageviews, blog posts and comments the blogs have in relation to one another. We plan on migrating all blogs (currently two are hosted on blogspot, one in Drupal and one on Tumblr) into a self-hosted version of Wordpress MU where we can manipulate the posts and better integrate them with our main website.
  • Each Tuesday, we upload a photo and caption of a plant from the tropical conservatory in our butterfly house. As the photo is uploaded, I invite others on Flickr who’ve take a picture of the week’s plant (searching via tags) to contribute their photo to our page about the plant. This cold-call type action has resulted in (at this point in time) over 200 contributions to the project. We have also gotten enough traffic to be clustered (on the tag “flickr plant project”) through Flickr’s AI tag search, allowing users to see, for example, pictures of cashew nut trees that are not on our page or tagged Flickr Plant Project (by way of exploring the “flickr plant project” tag). On occasion, we’ve received unsolicited contributions to a particular plant. If phase one of this project is to establish reputation and content, phase two will be to introduce these plants to our visitors and would-be visitors so that the worldwide attention they’ve received on Flickr will convey how special it is to have them in Durham.
  • The Museum has three pages on Facebook: the official Museum-administered page, a user-created group (the Museum of Life and Science RULEZ), and a page for our science café, Periodic Tables. Our fan growth has steadily grown (both charts show growth in Q1 2009) and is predominantly older (25+) and female.
  • The Museum has hosted video on YouTube for over a year, with the majority of our videos being animal- or local scientist-focused. We’ve uploaded 38 videos, resulting in 35k views and 47 comments (not counting hundreds of spam comments). We are pretty much split between male and female viewers, but our age range definitely skews to the older YouTube audience (35+). In the slide I’ve illustrated one of our traffic spikes, which was around Halloween when we released a spider Munch Cam! along with extra footage in a separate video.
  • Through the enthusiasm and dedication of one of our staff members, our video efforts continue to grow. He’s produced documentary pieces (like the arrival of one of our red wolves) and vignettes of roaches and pollinators. The value of these efforts is tremendous and YouTube isn’t a rich enough delivery. We are currently investigating other ways to deliver video content and looking at sites like YouTube, iTunesU, Vimeo and host-your-own solutions as individual story-based distribution channels.
  • One of the most important things we’re doing regarding web technology is purely internal. We’re testing and playing with all sorts of technologies to see what they’re like and to demystify them for staff members. One of these technologies is Yammer. The service isn’t used as religiously as we expected, but there are conversations that might’ve not happened otherwise. Note: The names of staff members have been removed.
  • Another technology we’re using internally is a Google Site for an intranet. It’s not widely used yet, but where it works it works really well. For example, each Tuesday I go in to the Flickr Plant Project page to find the photo and caption of the next plant to upload. Bobbi Jo, our Horticulturalist, can go in and update the order, caption and picture at anytime before I post so that I can post photos of plants when they’re in bloom.
  • As I appeal to staffers to integrate technologies and social networking into their everyday lives, the expectation of these networks and devices is friendship. That expectation results in these staffers not only having to become comfortable with gadgets and software, but to become comfortable with the blurring of their professional and personal lives. Each Friday, we have Happy Hour at The Pinhook. It’s a mixed purpose space where we talk work and life and technology and creativity. Our work relationships are richer and more productive because of the blurring of those lines.
  • The launch of is the first web endeavor we’ll have launched since my arrival. Prior to the launch of the finished website, there will be a “Help Us Build Our Website” phase, where Museum members will be given a MOO card during a special preview of the trail that points them to a page that looks like this slide. They’ll be invited to contribute photos, drawings, reports and narratives of their experience of the trail. We’ll inventory these contributions using (I’ll keep track of visitor-generated content and our exhibits manager will keep track of expert-generated content) and write custom-Drupal code that enables us to populate our pages so they are continually updating based on the contributions of our visitors and paleontologists. Once we’ve managed a successful and sustainable Museum/visitor/expert co-created website, we’ll look at replicating that model and code for each of our exhibits on a case-by-case basis.
  • Museum of Life and Science State of the Web