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MW18 Presentation: Serendipity and Readability: Building an Engaging Online Collection Site with Limited Resources


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By Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems, New Zealand, Jennifer Taylor Moore, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, New Zealand

Published paper: Serendipity and readability: Building an engaging online collection site with limited resources

The Sarjeant Gallery is a small regional gallery in Whanganui, New Zealand. The Gallery does not have its own Web development or IT staff. The Gallery looked for engaging ways for visitors to browse their collection without assuming a prior knowledge of the collection contents. How could the collection be presented so that general visitors could make the most use of it?

What interfaces could be used without requiring the Gallery staff to spend significant time reworking the existing cataloguing records and images? What areas were worth focusing on with the limited time and budget available? With the new website, the Gallery had three broad aims: introduce innovative features, make the site as accessible as possible, and meet current technical best practice.

The Sarjeant Gallery staff were open to prototyping and experimentation and worked closely with Vernon Systems to see what might be possible with their collection data. Key fields of basic collection metadata are combined to create natural sounding sentences that are easier to read. Automated analysis of the collection images provided us with further options. The Gallery has received many positive responses to the site. Visitors are delighted by new discoveries as they browse artworks of similar colors and explore based on the subject keywords added by Google’s Cloud Vision tool. Interesting connections between works from different artists and periods are emerging based on the colors, shapes, and image orientations detected by the computer vision tools employed on the website.

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MW18 Presentation: Serendipity and Readability: Building an Engaging Online Collection Site with Limited Resources

  1. 1. Serendipity and Readability: Building an Engaging Online Collection Site with Limited Resources Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems, @armchair_caver Jennifer Taylor Moore, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui Museums and the Web, Apr 2018
  2. 2. Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, New Zealand
  3. 3. The main collection store
  4. 4. Temporary premises
  5. 5. Small budget ($US15,000) and timeframe
  6. 6. Did not have time for any major rework of the collection data
  7. 7. Partnering with Vernon Systems
  8. 8. Open access: Publishing the whole collection
  9. 9. Open access: allowing re-use wherever possible
  10. 10. Open access: filtering by image rights
  11. 11. Open access: Using a responsive mobile- friendly design
  12. 12. Considering visitor types Explorers Facilitators • Website should be easy to browse • Simple options to filter the collection • Explore options: colour, image orientation, time, subject, object type • Highlight works on display at the Gallery • Connect ‘visit planning’ pages where relevant Experience Seekers Rechargers • Explore by colour • Connect works by keywords • Provide highlight sets to showcase groups of works • Provide a clean, uncluttered website where the artworks are the focus Professional/Hobbyist • Provide advanced search options
  13. 13. Computer vision: Creating new data
  14. 14. Quick wins: adding nationality
  15. 15. Generating natural sentences based on object type, production place and date
  16. 16. Adding links to related Wikipedia and Te Ara pages
  17. 17. Referencing significant sub- collections from Wikipedia
  18. 18. Separate microsite for the online collection
  19. 19. Microsite: lower cost and more flexible design
  20. 20. Prototyping: used an unbranded “working wireframe” as the starting point
  21. 21. Prototyping: features in action
  22. 22. User testing: worthwhile even at a small scale
  23. 23. Using plain language
  24. 24. Adding shortcuts for exploring the collection
  25. 25. Making the best use of the data we had
  26. 26. Avoiding dead-ends
  27. 27. Ensuring search engines can get to every page
  28. 28. Automatic data: image orientation
  29. 29. Google Cloud Vision subject tags
  30. 30. Unexpected new connections
  31. 31. Colour Analysis: extracting the raw colours was the easy part
  32. 32. Mapping to a smaller palette was hard
  33. 33. Indexing the colour names
  34. 34. Accessibility compliance  Alternative text for images  Responsive design for different devices  Support for browser zooming to resize content
  35. 35. Prototype ideas not implemented: Changing background colour based on each artwork image
  36. 36. … but the background colours didn’t always work
  37. 37. Prototype ideas not implemented: Most popular colours by decade
  38. 38. Nationalmuseum, Sweden: Painting Madonna with child Prototype ideas not implemented: Full sentence captions
  39. 39. Create once, publish everywhere (COPE)
  40. 40. Collection Focus: Digital/Physical Parallels
  41. 41. Options for sharing on social media
  42. 42. What’s next: Monitoring with Google Analytics Page views by explore option:  35% via a curated highlight set  23% via an object type link  12% via a colour swatch
  43. 43. What’s next  rights clearance  interpretive descriptions  regular changes to home page content
  44. 44. What’s next  quantitative displays of data (acquisitions by decade for example)  better highlighting of works on display  Peoples’ Choice series
  45. 45. National award and praise from visitors
  46. 46. Combine it all and find “house AND white AND landscape”
  47. 47. Related links Blog posts Looking at the Sarjeant Gallery’s collection through robot eyes: collection-through-robot-eyes-c7fd0281814e Building an accessible online collection for Sarjeant Gallery: collection-for-sarjeant-gallery-48cbcac4fdb6 Websites Cogapp image tagging test site: Sarjeant Gallery: Tools Color Thief: Google Cloud Vision API:
  48. 48. Paul Rowe, Vernon Systems Jennifer Taylor Moore, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui Thank you!