An Intern’s Journey: Chapter 3; The Importance of a Website

It’s certainly been a busy week and its only Tuesday! Last week I talked about my work with Banting House NHS’s social media, the creation of a strategic plan and manual and the importance of paying attention to analytics! This week is an expansion on that, but with a focus on website design and building.

            Last week, and on Monday, I spent my days working on this website. This included looking at other museum and small-house museums websites. In general, I spent a lot of time exploring the world wide web! I wanted to see how other museums were creating successful websites and see what common denominators they all had. Some things I looked out for were:

  • Tabs and drop-down menus
  • Colour schemes and layouts
  • Photos
  • How to connect and layout social media platforms
  • How to create online fillable forms
  • How to make the website as accessible as possible
  • …. And how to do all of this on a limited budget!

With the help of an amazing volunteer Lis and Grant’s guidance and supervision, I was able to start tackling some of these key components. Lis was able to compile a list of drop-down menu items and tabs and compared them across several different websites. This gave guidance as to what would be the most beneficial and useful information for our visitors. From there I compared the list to what the website already had and added the tabs and pages that were missing. Thankfully some of the pages were already populated with the relevant information – they just need some sprucing up and updating.

The layout, colour schemes, photos, and social media widgets were relatively easy to complete! Having access to Diabetes Canada’s Branding and Visual Identity Guidelines helped. I have designed a few websites and blogs prior to starting my internship here (I built a website for a children’s entertainment company before). After a few changes and adjustments, Grant and myself finally created a design that looks sleek and professional, while keeping the site unique to Banting House NHS! The photo of Dr. Banting’s bedroom as the header photo for the entire website, is a great way for the whole story to come full circle. His bedroom is the place where the story started, and our website is a digital way to cement that legacy and continue the story of insulin and Banting House NHS. Thanks to Grant for the idea to use that photo!

I think the most difficult part of working on the website was doing so, with a free account. A lot of museums, especially small museums, work on a very limited budget, so it’s important to get creative! Using the free tools and layouts available, I was able to find one that allowed me to customize the site as much as possible with the free account.

Here are my takeaways from the week:

  • Embedded links can smell fear (I am still struggling to upload a video!)
  • Website designing can often be relaxing. Who doesn’t love playing around with colours?
  • A lot of thought, time and research goes into making a good museum website. Show your appreciation for the museum’s hard work by following their site!
  • Just because you have a free account does not mean it can’t look good! Being creative is key to overcoming many obstacles!

Overall, this was a great experience and while the website is nowhere near finished, we are over halfway there. Make sure to follow us on here, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!

This post was written by Kat MacDonald, an intern at Banting House NHSC. Kat is currently completing her M.A. in Public History at Western University.

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