It’s hard to ignore that we are living in a digital age. For many museums, the focus is on the tangible setting of the building and exhibits. However, you can’t provide that physical experience without first providing an intriguing digital one. Put some thought and effort into your museum’s website and see how it improves your visitor numbers and experience.
Go With the Flow
Your site needs to be easy to navigate. If viewers cannot find what they are looking for quickly, they are very likely to move right past your site. The flow of your website should be intuitive. Have your hours, location, and ticket prices in an obvious place. Make them large and easy to read. Label your menu so that people can find what they need at a glance. Have pages for “Current Exhibits,” “Upcoming Events,” and “Our History,” so that people don’t have to search for the information they are looking for. Don’t use tiny fonts or don’t cram information together. It’s okay to take up space on your own site.
Optimize for Speed
Having large, high quality pictures of your exhibits and location is appealing to potential visitors viewing your website, but it can also slow down the loading speed of your webpages. This can discourage online viewers from exploring your website. It also causes Google to devalue your website and penalize you by sending fewer people to your site. A pro tip in avoiding this problem is to add the photos as a PNG file type. This format will allow your webpages to load faster while maintaining high quality images.
Make your website “secure.” This results in a badge that tells viewers that your site is protected from hackers, bugs, and other dangers online. This is also important because Google requires you to have a secured website in order to be eligible for the $10,000 Google Grant for non-profits. Make your viewers feel safe on your site while also becoming eligible for some great advertising money. Check out our page here with steps on how to make your website secure. (include image of secure badge)
Engage Your Visitors Online
The best way to gain allies for your museum is to make people feel like they are a part of it. A great way to do this is to include user generated content on your website and social media. Encourage museum visitors to take pictures of and post about their time at your museum on social media. Feature their creative posts and images on your website as a part of an online visitor gallery. This will make current visitors feel like a part of the museum family while showing potential visitors the kind of experience they can have at your museum. Include a call-to-action exhibit in your museum that actively encourages current visitors to engage online with your museum.
Stay True to Your Aesthetic
Your museum’s website should be a glimpse into what your physical location has to offer. Use images on your site as a way to communicate the message and aesthetic of your museum. It can be difficult to translate your museum to an online medium, so give it the time and thought it deserves. Use colors, shapes, and tones that match your physical location and give potential visitors an idea of what they will experience at your museum.
Stay Up To Date
If your website is more than 5 years old, you may want to consider revamping it. Having a pretty, modern website will keep people on your site for longer and is more likely to convert website viewers to museum visitors. Consider using user-friendly sites, like Wix, to create a website that is visually appealing without requiring too much hard programming.
Cater to the Smartphone
Optimize your site for mobile devices. Chances are more people will view your site on their smartphones than they will on a computer. Ensure that your site keeps all of the same aesthetic qualities on mobile devices as on desktops. This often requires a separate design process depending on the program you use to manage your website. Do some research to see what your website requires to optimize for mobile.