In this second post I am going to focus on the ‘Failing Forward’ session, which saw participants in the action research project discuss projects which have failed and what lessons they have learned from these projects.
Whilst I wasn’t quite sure how Matthew Cock’s example demonstrated ‘failing’ he did provide some useful insights and indeed a sneak preview of the British Museums new website.
The British Museum is currently using Reinvigorate which is a heat mapping software with lots of interesting features that shows exactly how visitors use and interact with your website. I was quite surprised at how reasonable Reinvigorate is, with prices starting at 10 dollars a month.
Hugh Wallace, National Museums Scotland discussed a 3 month Flickr project. The museum asked people to uploads photos of why they like Scotland. However they only received 91 photo uploads, many of which where staff or staff facilitated uploads. So what did they learn from this project? 1) Don’t run before you can walk, don’t try and do a social project if you have not yet become a social museum 2) Value niche over mass market, ask specific questions, don’t target everyone as this is less effective 3) Recognise the importance of real world activity in driving people online.
James Morley, Kew talked about the redesign of Kew’s website. His best bit of advice value your 404 page. Rather than simply saying not found, Kew searches the link to find other articles containing similar words. Such a simple, yet effective idea. When James was discussing this Tom Uglow from google, also chipped in that this was something it took youtube ages to think of. Youtube, like Kew also offer popular links to help redirect the lost web visitor.
Emma McLean, National Maritime Museum talked about social media conversations and whether museums need to be online to be talked about. Often the best conversations about museums are peer to peer recommendations not museum facilitated conversations. She highlighted a project that involved NMM hiring a writer to highlight London’s maritime history across a number of different sites on FourSquare. This seemed like a really innovative way to deliver knowledge via a new channel and raise the profile of the museum. However and rather unexplicably no one clicked through the links placed on FourSqaure, zero click throughs! This demonstrates clearly how ideas cooked up in our offices really need to be tested in the real world before we can be confident that it will succeed.
The goal of this session was to get people talking about failure and to allow us to learn from other peoples mistakes. However this session also highlighted the need to recognise the importance of failing, innovation does not come from text books it comes from trial and error and yes, unfortunately failure is part of this cycle.