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Redesigning the National Museums Liverpool website: research

15 January 2019 by Scott Smith

The website steering group in action

The website steering group in action!

Redesigning a website is often a long and arduous process. Re-designing a museum website is on a whole different level. From collections to retail and development to marketing, every department is a stakeholder. Aside from that, museum websites are massive. Ours has thousands upon thousands of pages which makes the idea of completely updating it slightly terrifying.

The National Museums Liverpool website hasn’t had any design work since 2012. Given that digital is one of the most agile moving industries, and in order to make sure that digital products are achieving user needs, we need to be updating them and constantly striving to do better. Our website is no different.

So, with our appointed design company IGOO, we made the decision to embark on a complete redesign of our website to make sure that it is accessible for everyone and that it’s meeting all of our user needs.

The first stage of this is the user research phase. To have a user-centric design you need to undertake a lot of research and speak to a lot of people in order to make sure that you’re working towards creating a website for what the user (you!) actually wants.

Survey for the National Museums Liverpool WebsiteSome of the work we’ve done so far includes:

  • A complete audit of our Google Analytics in order to get a good understanding of what pages are the most used and the way that people move through the website
  • An audit of the website design to see what templates we have and how they’re being used
  • An analysis of 10 Website Heatmaps based on 2,500 views
  • Assessment of up to 2,000 recordings of user interactions
  • Analysis of our online website survey
  • 100 visitor interviews across all National Museums Liverpool venues

All of this combined data gave us a really good understanding of what people were using our website for and how they were using it, including what worked well, what they were struggling with, what we needed to change and what we were missing.

From then on we begun holding stakeholder workshops with representatives from each department across the whole of National Museums Liverpool. We digested all of this data into different user personas. These are fictional representations of our visitors that help us understand our prospective users and make it easier for us to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

Research for the National Museums Liverpool websiteWe asked ourselves various questions about these imaginary people including:

What tasks are they trying to complete?
What is their ultimate goal?
How are they feeling about the experience?
What pain is the user experiencing?

Once we had this solid foundation of who we were creating the website for, we began to construct the new sitemap. A sitemap is essentially a way to show how the navigation should be structured based on what we know of how users will navigate the site. They help us identify where content will sit and what needs to be produced, as well as the language used by visitors.

Moving forward, our next steps are to start working on wireframes and designs to pin down the look and feel of each section of the new website.

We’re hoping to keep you in the loop as the project progresses so please let us know your thoughts about our current websites, what you would like on the new one and if you have any ideas about what content you’d like to see!

  1. Norma Curtis says:

    Great news that there is going to be a new web site for N M Liverpool.
    Make it easy to navigate.Not everyone is internet savvy.

  2. Allan Manhire says:

    I have a feeling the new website will be awesome, looking forward to it

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Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.

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We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.