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					How to Redesign a Web site in 5 easy steps
    1.   Understand your mission
    2.   Listen to your stakeholders
    3.   Create a logical site map before you start design
    4.   Keep the user in mind when making design decisions
    5.   Use technology standards to maximize flexibility

                                                                  Newseum Web Site
                                                                  Redesign Process
                                                                  The Newseum Web site was
                                                                  originally launched in 1997
                                                                  as a content-based
                                                                  extension of the Newseum,
                                                                  the world’s first interactive
                                                                  museum of news. The site
                                                                  featured marketing and
                                                                  visitor information, online
                                                                  exhibits and a link to a
                                                                  small online store. The site
                                                                  was redesigned in 2000,
                                                                  and when the physical
                                                                  Newseum closed in 2002,
                                                                  the decision was made to
                                                                  increase the visibility of the
                                                                  Web site. The site had
  Redesigned home page                                            already been recognized
                                                                  with several national
awards, and a Webby nomination, but it needed something more. A new feature was added,
Today’s Front Pages, which initially presented about 100 daily newspaper front pages from
around the world. This proved to be a very successful exhibit, and www.newseum.org grew to
be a popular site with approximately 750,000
visitors a month and more than 500 front pages
a day.

But with a new, much larger Newseum being
built on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington D.C., it
was essential that a new Web site be created to
coincide with the opening of the new facility. We
began the process in January 2006 with an
outline of our target milestones and a
completion deadline of January 2007. This was
going to be more than just a make-over, it would
involve a complete rebuild of the site, the
addition of e-commerce capability for ticket                             Today’s Front Pages gallery




5/10/2007                                   1 of 4                  Newseum Web Site Redesign
sales, a sophisticated event-planning interface, new content, and a transition to flash video
with the elimination of pop-up windows.

We had a small team; the manager of multimedia Harland Harris, our senior multimedia
developer Libby Bawcombe, an associate producer for multimedia, Jessica Hall, and two
interns. The team is also responsible for the design and development of all of the
Newseum’s new interactive exhibits. Working with them when needed were two graphic
designers, Danielle Sawicki Kunitz and Dorian Soto, and a team of video producers. There
was an additional database programmer who worked on the project part-time. Christy
Jerding, director of publications, helped coordinate and edit all of the final copy.

With a small team it's important that everyone is working on some facet of the project at any
given time – an asymmetrical build. Content was being collected at the same time as
preliminary designs were created - even CSS issues were being researched and considered
at that same time. Each person advanced their share of the project independently until those
pieces could be brought together.


   1. Understand your mission
   The most important part of the process is to clearly understand and define the mission of
   the Web site. Is it primarily a marketing tool, an online ticketing system, a content
   management system, a “virtual museum” or all of the above? Providing online access to
   components of the museum’s collection is only part of the Web site’s function. The Web
   site also has to provide the information visitors need in order to plan their visit.

   2. Listen to your stakeholders
   Everyone knows how important it is to “get buy-in” from the various parts of an
   organization for a high-profile project like a Web site. Our approach from the beginning
   was not to pay lip-service to the process, but to really engage all of the stakeholders in
   creative dialogue, and incorporate as many of their ideas as possible. While the design
   team had strong opinions, we were always open to other points of view. This resulted in
                                                              strong support for the final
                                                              design.

                                                           3. Create a logical site map
                                                           The team agreed the first step
                                                           had to be the site map, with
                                                           design and navigation based on
                                                           functional needs. We started
                                                           with the time-tested but very old-
                                                           school system of paper index
                                                           cards. We wrote down every idea
                                                           and function and started playing
                                                           with them. Despite some initial
                                                           skepticism from younger
                                                           members of the design team,
     Sitemap index cards                                   the cards were a very effective
                                                           way to experiment with
   structure. We focus-tested the persistent navigation concepts with students using the


5/10/2007                                   2 of 4                  Newseum Web Site Redesign
                    Templates
     Templates in development in development




   index cards and learned a great deal. In our early presentations of the proposed site map
   using the cards, senior executives were able to move page-specific content around easily
   and when the meeting ended, we had an approved site map all laid out. Additional
   refinements were made as the design process went forward, but the basic structure
   worked out using the index cards survived unchanged.

   4. Keep the user in mind when making design decisions
   Our primary design goal was to make the site fun, inviting and easy to use. We needed to
   incorporate a range of new functions into the site, including ticketing and event planning,
   while not losing the content that made the site popular. This stage of the process went
   surprisingly smoothly, partly because we had a great designer, but mostly because the
   site map was well laid out and the design promoted function. We focus tested the design
   with various groups and were able to move quickly into production.

   5. Use technology to maximize flexibility
   Understand the technology that is best suited for your needs and look to the future not to
   the past. Technology is changing so quickly it is essential that the underlying structure is
   built with flexibility in mind. Using current standards like CSS and XML, you can separate
   content from code. This allows content to be easily ported into other interfaces/platforms
   maximizing the number of
   users who can experience
   the same content using
   different means (or at
   least that's the ultimate
   goal).

   We wanted to use flash for
   all video and multimedia
   and to run everything off a
   database backend. We
   decided to launch the Web
   site once the majority of                                          Templates in development
   its functionality was completed, with the knowledge that its development would be an
   ongoing process. Because we will not open until October, we wanted to allow the site to
   expand as our needs and marketing campaign evolved. The most difficult part of the
   process was coordinating the Content Management System with the design. Creating a
   dynamic site that can be easily updated using templates and databases requires an
   enormous amount of communication between the systems team and the design team.




5/10/2007                                      3 of 4              Newseum Web Site Redesign
Newseum by the numbers, the website version
By Jessica Hall, Newseum associate producer/multimedia

In honor of our recent Webby Awards nomination, the multimedia group pondered the
question of how much it takes to make a website about a museum of news. Then we did the
math.

1                            Broken foot
1                            Annoying boss*
2                            Interns
5                            Full-time staff, none of whom are completely
                             dedicated to working on the site
48                           Sitemap drafts
70                           Index cards
148                          Pages (and counting)
450                          Daily front pages
1,388                        Images on site, not including front pages
12,001                       Front pages in the Today’s Front Pages archives
Not quantifiable             Caffeine and sugar consumed by the team
Way too many to count        Changes

*It was not my idea to add this.




                                     …coming Oct. 15
                                    www.newseum.org




5/10/2007                                  4 of 4                 Newseum Web Site Redesign

				
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