Looking to build a digital archive based on user needs?
For the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Ford’s Theatre launched Remembering Lincoln, a digital collection connecting end users with digitized personal, institutional, and public responses to that monumental event from around the United States and world. Building the collection involved working with over two dozen institutions that contributed seldom-displayed materials.
Meanwhile, the functionality of the website housing the primary source materials—including the ultimate choice of Drupal as the content management system—was determined through a six-month audience evaluation and planning process. The process led to an engaging digital interface for audiences to connect with collection items from a wide range of institutions.
This presentation will cover an audience research process we hope will help other institutions looking to create audience-friendly digital archives, including:
A two-day planning meeting with advisors and partners, with definition of preliminary outcomes and user personas for four primary user groups (teachers, students, scholars, enthusiasts); Logic models that plotted steps to achieve those preliminary outcomes; Focus groups and surveys to test those outcomes and learn more about both what content and what functionality would interest each audience group; Formulation of a Product Definition Document based on the data from the focus groups and surveys; A RFP process for a web developer using the Product Definition Document as a checklist of specifications.
In this presentation, we will share detail about what worked—and didn’t—in the process, and lessons learned for future projects of a similar nature. We also hope that other institutions will share what worked for them so that everyone can learn about creating an audience-friendly digital archive collaboratively.