Studies show that online museum collections are among the least popular features of a museum website, which many museums attribute to a lack of interest. While it’s certainly possible that a large segment of the population is simply uninterested in viewing museum objects through a computer screen, it is also possible that a large number of people want to find and view museum objects digitally but have been discouraged from doing so due to the poor user experience (UX) of existing online-collection interfaces. This paper describes the creation and validation of a UX assessment rubric for online museum collections. Consisting of ten factors, the rubric was developed iteratively through in-depth examinations of several existing museum-collection interfaces. To validate the rubric and test its reliability and utility, an experiment was conducted in which two UX professionals and two museum professionals were asked to apply the rubric to three online museum collections and then provide their feedback on the rubric and its use as an assessment tool. This paper presents the results of this validation study, as well as museum-specific results derived from applying the rubric. The paper concludes with a discussion of how the rubric may be used to improve the UX of museum-collection interfaces and future research directions aimed at strengthening and refining the rubric for use by museum professionals.
Presented at the 2015 Museums and the Web conference in Chicago IL.