GLAMi nomination: Science Museum Group Websites Relaunch

nominated by: John Stack, Science Museum Group, UK
institution: Science Museum Group (Science Museum, London; National Railway Museum, York, National Science and Media Museum, Bradford; Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester; Locomotion, Shildon)
category: Marketing and Promotion

The Science Museum Group is comprised of five museums. In March 2017, each museum had its own brand and its own distinct web presence. As a result of focusing on creating new online initiatives rather than managing the web estate, there were also dozens of project microsites comprising tens of thousands of pages, many dating back over a decade. The result of this was:

  • poor user experience, navigation, search and content discovery
  • fragmented and dated design
  • inward focused structure, reflecting the organisation and its projects rather than audience needs
  • only partial support for mobile and touchscreens
  • low accessibility in many areas
  • large volumes of out-of-date, duplicated and underperforming content
  • cumbersome technology and extensive use of Flash

Over the last year, the Science Museum Group has completely reworked its entire web estate through a gargantuan project with numerous parallel initiatives. For various reasons (rebranding, exhibition openings, etc.) the project had a very compressed timeline and multiple deadlines that could not be missed. The project’s specific deliverables were:

Within this ambitious and complex programme, a eight components were selected to be “gold plated” and given special attention both within the project in the longer term planning:

  1. New brand and simplified, user-centred experience, including design continuity across all websites
  2. Extensive use of moving image content to communicate the experience of visiting the museums (example 1example 2example 3example 4example 5example 6)
  3. Recognising that the collection tends to be opaque without context, development of narrative formats to provide a platform to tell the stories using text, images and rich media (example 1example 2example 3example 4example 5example 6example 7example 8);
  4. Use of short-form video content to foreground the voices of curators and bring the collection and science to life (example 1example 2example 3example 4example 5)
  5. Within the online collection, implementation of large images, unification of archival material and objects, powerful search and ability to support large-scale digitisation initiative from mid-2018
  6. Introduction of new forms of digital learning resources for teachers including 3D scans of objects
  7. Based on in-depth user research (which we’re in the process of sharing through the Group’s Digital Lab publication on Medium)
  8. Revisiting of all legacy content including redevelopment of Flash components to HTML5 including the award winning Launchball game

Vast and complex in it’s scope and interdependencies, the project has met every deadline over the past 12 months and successfully delivered a transformation in the Science Museum Group’s online presence. The new web estate has been very well received by both the museum and its audiences and is already forming the foundations for the next phase of the Group’s digital ambitions.

Learning Resources website screenshot
Learning Resources
Collection Online website screenshot
Collection Online
Science Museum Group website screenshot
Science Museum Group
Locomotion website screenshot
Museum of Science and Industry website screenshot
Museum of Science and Industry
Science and Media Museum website screenshot
Science and Media Museum
Science Museum website screenshot
Science Museum