Usability and Accessibility
The conference is over now, and we're into the next leg of the journey, which is to visit more museums over here and look a bit deeper into what they're doing.
Some of the interesting sessions I should mention (and I'll end up writing about a few more) include an accessibility workshop hosted by Stephen Browne from De Montfort University and Brian Kelly of UKOLN, and a usability lab from Paul Marty at Florida State University and Michael Twidale at the University of Illinois.
In the usability lab, volunteers were asked to navigate a set of museum sites with a purpose in mind - planning a wedding, looking up botanical information, etc - not having visited those sites before. There were little struggles with navigation, wording of links, placement of information and so on which the designers hadn't anticipated.
Our site wasn't one of the sites that was examined, but it does make me think about how we plan our new collections-based area. We're hoping to offer more interactivity and the navigation will be based on categories, time periods, activities and other criteria. It'll be different from the rigid hierarchy of the rest of the site, so there's a lot of new accessibility and usability issues for us to deal with.