Planning Kit for a Quality Site for Small and Medium Sized Museums
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The Quality Principles Handbook says:
This section examines the sixth quality principle, that «A quality Website must be responsive, enabling users to contact the site and receive an appropriate reply. Where appropriate, encourage questions, information sharing and discussions with and between users». It:
Responsiveness is concerned with the ability for the site and the site owners to respond to user questions and suggestions. Ideally, such responses should be in an open forum arrangement, so that other users can contribute to the discussion, learn from the answers given to other users, etc. Responsiveness goes beyond the issue of user-centricity, because it includes the concept of user participation and user content production, rather than simply user consumption of content.
A responsive site adds value and interest for the end users because of its interactive nature. As users have the ability to add material to the site, to ask questions and share opinions, this makes the site more attractive.
Responsiveness is particularly important for cultural Websites. The high knowledge value and the educational and research applications of cultural material means that questions are likely and the need for expert assistance is quite high. In addition, the value of the information exchange (question, answer and explanation) is likely to be high, since it concerns cultural matters.
As noted in the previous (user-centred) section, the ability for users to add content is recommended for cultural Websites.
The notion of responsiveness must be supported and implemented within the organisation. A specified member of staff must have time and resources allocated to answering queries and to managing any fora or other online facilities for user interaction. This member of staff must in turn have access to sectoral experts who are ready and willing to help.
Clearly, issues arise with the moderation of user-contributed content. The cultural Website, with its high national profile, must not be used to publish inappropriate or unacceptable material. Procedures must be in place to approve user-contributed content and to remove material which is not suitable.
A policy for responsiveness is recommended. Such a policy may state levels of service to be supported, in terms of recommended response times.
This section presents a number of points against which a site can be checked.
This section suggests some simple, pragmatic tests and questions to be asked in order to assess how completely your Website meets the responsiveness principle:
© Minerva Project 2005-03, last revision 2006-03-30, edited by WP5, Committee for the development of a prototype of public cultural websites.