The Spencer Museum has a robust digital infrastructure with records for all of its collection objects online and significant additional content. Currently, the Museum operates digitally across various platforms, including a visitor-focused website (www.spencerart.ku.edu), which uses the Drupal content management system; a mobile app; custom-built web-based applications (www.spencerartapps.ku.edu), which include Collection Search, Curricular Resources Database, K–12 Lesson Plans, and Collection Mapping; and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube). With increased user engagement of the Museum’s online resources and social channels due to COVID-19, structural challenges have been accentuated.
Weaknesses in how audiences navigate a wealth of material across multiple platforms, barriers to rapidly developing new web content, as well as engagement on social media platforms, has accelerated the Museum’s desire to improve its digital presence and specifically our website architecture.
Located on the University of Kansas (KU) Lawrence campus, the Spencer Museum of Art’s galleries offer a dynamic classroom for students at KU, K–12 students across Kansas, and lifelong learners in the Midwest region. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spencer Museum engaged a digital consultant to work with the staff, KU partners, and national advisors in determining internal and external digital priorities with the end goal of creating the Spencer Museum’s first comprehensive digital plan. This consultant also completed a review of the Museum’s website and apps. With support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Museum seeks to enlist a digital consultant to build on the initial review of our website and application and to specifically assess the effectiveness of the Museum’s existing web platforms and social media presence through user testing. The consultant hired will also make recommendations for future areas of focus and adaptations to enhance the experience of existing and new audiences. The goal of the evaluation is to provide the Spencer Museum with a written set of recommendations based on external audience desires for improving discoverability, exploration, engagement, and accessibility with Spencer digital resources. It will also serve as one of the foundational documents in writing the Museum’s digital plan and informing future resource development.
Scope of Work:
OJECT EVALUATION OBJECTIVES
• Discoverability of content, resources, and applications digitally available to audiences:
o If you know something exists, can you find it easily without a direct URL?
o If you don’t know something exists, can you easily stumble upon it or be led there by Google?
• Functionality of website and applications:
o How easy are they to use?
o Are they accessible to an audience with a wide variety of abilities?
• Relevance of social media platforms:
o How does our engagement compare to peer art museums?
o What can we do to enhance our exposure?
o How can we use social media to gain new audiences?
o How can we connect social media audiences with other digital resources?
• Comparison to art museum field:
o How do we measure up to other university and college art museums?
o How do we compare to global leaders?
o What are some art museums we should aspire to emulate?
• Recommendations for changes to website hierarchy:
o Are there emerging structures that better serve audiences than traditional models?
DESCRIPTION OF SERVICES AND EXPECTED OUTPUTS
• Overview of the effectiveness, usability, and sustainability of public facing platforms and applications o SMA apps: www.spencerartapps.ku.edu, with specific attention given to targeted audience for each application
o Main website: www.spencerart.ku.edu
o Mobile app
o Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube
• Evaluation of web-based programs/websites including but not limited to: o PSST:https://www.psstmission.com/
o Collection Cards: https://collectioncards.ku.edu/
o Spencer Museum Arts Collaborative: https://www.smacspencer.com/
o Bulldog Art Tours: https://spencerart.ku.edu/bulldog/2020
o Collection Tours: https://spencerartapps.ku.edu/collection-tours
o Virtual Exhibitions: https://www.spencerart.ku.edu/virtual-exhibition
o Docent Website: https://www.spencermuseumdocents.com/
• Conduct audience evaluations, both already engaged and those missing, to receive direct feedback on application relevance and site functionality with a focus on audience-directed future development of digital platforms and how perceptions have changed as a result of the global pandemic Currently Targeted Audiences
o Teachers for K–12 Lesson Plan Database
o KU Faculty for Curricular Resource Database
o General for website/mobile app/collection search/social media
o Specific audience personas of interest to the museum:
§ University of Kansas Students
§ University Faculty (KU and regionally)
§ K–12 teachers and students
§ Peer institutions (specifically other university art museums)
§ Kansas residents
§ Scholars and researchers
§ Children (PSST and Collection Cards)
§ Families/Lawrence community members – how did they get to the museum?
• Recommendation of concrete ways to integrate ongoing evaluation of digital platforms into staff workflows to ensure continued development of existing applications
• Summary of relevance of digital platforms in comparison to national and international trends APPENDICES
• Design for Context Website and Application Review
• Design for Context Mellon Digital Initiative Consultant Summary— Visits 1–3
• Spencer Art Apps Overview
• Strategic Plan
• Comprehensive Interpretive Plan
January 31, 2021
Jennifer Talbott, Deputy Director for Operations and Innovation, email@example.com
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