Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites

Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites



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 ...

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.



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    Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites Pushing the boundaries on content-rich websites Presentation Transcript

    • 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
    • However…
    • 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