Web and mobile

We review the latest websites and apps
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Rebecca Atkinson
Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery

TripAdvisor, the online review website, is an important referrer for attractions, but it’s rare for museums to feature reviews on their own sites. Not so with Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery, which has embedded its TripAdvisor rating and highlights of what people have said about it on the homepage of its recently relaunched website.

It’s not the most attractive design feature, but it does emphasise the key role a museum website plays in encouraging people to visit in person.

The visitor information on the site is simple to follow. It states upfront that the museum is free (and sensibly suggests a £3 donation), before providing travel information, a map and, crucially, a description of access provision, including the number of steps and the location of lifts.

There is also a list of things to do during a visit, such as trails and interactive family backpacks. This is aimed at visitors with children and could be extended to provide other groups with information about what to expect once inside.

The navigation bar is crowded, and it’s a shame that the “What’s on” page isn’t higher on the list. Current and forthcoming shows could also be highlighted more on the homepage.

Elsewhere on the website there is a breakdown of collection areas, which is let down by photographs of the galleries rather than images of objects. Similarly, the learning section contains useful information but is accompanied by small images that don’t conjure up any excitement.

Despite a few faults, the website doesn’t make the mistake of providing unnecessary information and instead focuses on what is important to potential museum visitors.



Heritage Learning

Heritage Learning, the independent organisation that delivers learning programmes for Hull’s museums and galleries, has launched a website to help teachers find the right learning experience for their pupils.

The homepage plays a crucial role in the new design, with teachers able to quickly find what’s available by clicking on a particular topic or venue. Highquality, professional photographs accompany the results, along with upfront information such as the relevant age group and the name of the session.

It’s strange that you can’t search by Key Stage 2, for example, and many of the sessions I looked at lacked much detail beyond a two-line description. Instead, users are pushed towards filling in an enquiry form or calling the service directly.

Elsewhere on the site there are guides to venues in Hull, but these lack any useful detail such as opening times, access information or even a hyperlink to the relevant museum website.

The website looks appealing and successfully showcases the learning opportunities across Hull’s museums, but unfortunately lacks detail.


Weiner Library Collections Catalogue

The Weiner Library in London recently launched an integrated online collections catalogue, which replaces its three previous catalogues (library, archives, and photographs) and allows users to search across all its collections in one system for the first time.

A number of features have been added in response to user feedback to make searching for information easier. For example, users can now save and share searches, as well as filter results by date and keyword.

The catalogue’s homepage features pictures of objects from a photographic series by Ali Mobasser and Russell Weekes, as well as a list of recently added titles. It also has a search bar with options for advanced filters. The way results are displayed may be intimidating for those not used to library catalogues – there are a number of options to sort the results by the type of document.

But once you’ve got your head around that, the process is relatively straightforward. As many of the records are for books and other written documents, it’s not a visual catalogue, but the enhanced functions may be of interest to museums looking to make their collections and archives more accessible.


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