A New Online Normal?

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A New Online Normal?

Lessons learned in isolation

An artnet article in January noted that while the Rijksmuseum had its lowest attendance in more than forty years, its digital audience grew significantly. On the surface, it makes sense that digital audiences would grow when the physical museum is closed. However, what caused the Rijksmuseum audience to increase is more the enhanced online experience than the reality that it was the only possible experience.

Museum leaders could not have known that launching a new website would coincide with a pandemic, but by investing in new online tools and digitalizing their amazing collection, the Rijksmuseum created a robust digital experience at an opportune time. Visitors can zoom in to see the brushstrokes in high-resolution images of masterworks, take curated “tours” through the collection, and search based on subject, artist, color, and more. They are encouraged to curate their own collection to share with other visitors. The journey through the site is an adventure as you dive deep into the collection. In website terms, the site is very sticky.

After isolation

While we all look forward to hugging friends and visiting museums in person again, it is likely that many of the digital trends that have grown over the past year will continue. Working remotely, which was gaining popularity before the pandemic and which became the primary way in which many have worked for the past year, will continue to be a worldwide trend. Live-stream culture events and digital exhibitions, while markedly different from in-person events, have provided worldwide audiences access to content they may not have been able to see in person. When we go back to live events, it is likely that many will also be live-streamed or recorded to increase reach and access.

Enhanced tools enhance experience

What makes a visit to the Rijksmuseum website special is the experience and engagement made possible by enhanced digital tools. While the majority of websites continue to offer simple information in text, images and links, the increased access and speed of the internet provides the opportunity for companies and organizations of all kinds to create robust experiences for users. Database-driven filters and high-resolution photographs and video, livestream events, online communities, seamless flow between websites and social sites have transformed what is possible.

Questions to ask

When considering how best to invest in online tools, start with questions.

  • Who is the website for?
  • Is the goal to provide information or experience?
  • What should visiting the site feel like?
  • Is it important that visitors return?

An internationally acclaimed museum like the Rijksmuseum is not the same as a neighborhood café, social service organization or interior design firm. A theater and a hospital may have little in common and yet both have a website and likely a presence on social media. Twenty years ago, a website that listed hours of operation and location may have been adequate. Today, in an almost-post-pandemic world, websites not only drive in-person experiences and sales, they have the power to be the experience.

Conclusion

Invest in tools that enhance user experience. Drive engagement. Define your new normal.

 

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OTHER NEWS & INSIGHTS

04.12.21

U.S. Renal Care contracts D&CO for Discovery & Brand Positioning

03.04.21

Ardelyx contracts D&CO to design new Milwaukee, WI corporate interior

02.23.21

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