The Florida Holocaust Museum’s mission is to honor the memory of the men, women and children who suffered and lost their lives in the Holocaust. It’s also to teach the critical lessons necessary to avoid future instances of injustice throughout our society. This is done through permanent exhibitions featuring artifacts and stories of local survivors and rotating exhibitions focused on specific facets of the Holocaust.
However, the Florida Holocaust Museum faced an issue that many museums face in our digital world- how to utilize current technologies to present the museum’s mission, resources and brand beyond its own walls. The experience for visitors to the museum is unsurpassed but can the experience be translated to a broader audience digitally?
To accomplish this important initiative, the Florida Holocaust Museum partnered with Absolute Mobile Solutions to produce an interactive website that will not only brand the museum in a fresh way, but also provide a dynamic platform for using the museum’s comprehensive educational resources.
Looking at the Florida Holocaust Museum, Internally and Externally
As with any museum, there are many stakeholders to consider when creating a large-scale project. To ensure that their needs were met, we conducted a series of interviews with leaders in each department of the museum.
We spoke to the museum’s board members. We attended events and spoke to museum visitors to get a feel for the types of content they wanted to see on the museum’s website and what keeps them engaged once they are there. We also examined websites from other museums. We used this wealth of information to generate a creative brief.
We use creative briefs to guide the work we do for clients. It lists the project’s mission and objectives and makes clear what the project is and what it will accomplish.
When creating a new website it’s critical to consider who will actually be using the site and the way in which they will be interacting with it. This is done through the creation of personas. The persona helps us learn more about the website’s audience and guides us through any design challenges.
We examined how other museums dealt with a variety of important scenarios on their sites, including event registration, distributing information, raising money, and general interactivity. We also examined the Florida Holocaust Museum’s current web strategy to determine strengths and opportunities for growth.
Through this careful analysis of the environment within the museum and the world outside of it, we created a strategy for the new design.
We collaborated with key stakeholders from the Florida Holocaust Museum including, the executive director (Gelman), the curator and the directors of membership, advancement and education to craft a strategy for the website, including what new features it will possess. The strategy encompassed the goals that were set forth at the beginning of the project along with best practices for design and user experience.
The design took into account the museum’s objectives. While new features that enhanced the audience’s experience was a critical part of the site redesign, tone and messaging was even more important. Primarily, the topic of the Holocaust is a somber one. The Florida Holocaust Museum didn’t want to be viewed solely as a memorial, but rather a place that’s focused on the future.
The goal of the new site design was to position the museum as a place of hope. A place where we can learn from the tragedies of the past in order to avoid repeating them. And a place that supports human rights throughout the world. These concepts informed all design decisions.
Several mock-ups were created across all platforms, including mobile and tablet. The new website has a responsive design allowing information to be transmitted the same way regardless of device.
Once the key stakeholders approved the mock-up for the new website, we built a WordPress Content Management System with a customized theme. The system was created to allow the museum staff to update their website without our assistance. Exhibits change on a regular basis and the museum has a number of monthly events. The use of a content management system represents a significant cost and time savings.
The Florida Holocaust Museum provides trunks with the resources necessary to teach students about the Holocaust to educators throughout United States. The large teaching trunks provide literature-based lessons about the Holocaust, genocide and character education. The new website has enhanced registration systems allowing people to reserve educational trunk program as well as group tours.
After site development, testing, and adjustment based on user feedback, the new Florida Holocaust Museum website was launched.
We completed the project by training the museum’s staff on using the registration systems and updating content.
“We selected Absolute because along with having the technical skills necessary to succeed in this project, they had a passion for the mission of the museum and an understanding of the challenges that the museums faced in the digital age. Our goal is for this to be more than a website, but a primary tool for changing the way the Holocaust is taught.”