May 27, 2010, 2:15 pm
Historic New England Web Site Goes Live
By Kirsten Robinson
Historic New England’s redesigned web site is now live at www.historicnewengland.org. Historic New England is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and presenting New England’s history. They own and operate 36 historic house museums, provide educational programming for adults and children, collect and conserve historic objects and archives, help preservation organizations and homeowners protect and maintain historic sites, and publish books and magazines about history and preservation.
Some highlights of the new site:
- Improved navigation and fresh visual design replaced a site that had grown organically over ten years.
- Greatly expanded content on historic properties, preservation, and more: site updates are completely under the control of Historic New England staff for the first time, through an easy-to-use content management system (CMS) called Plone.
- Online collections access: users can now browse and search Historic New England’s extensive collections of museum objects, archival materials, and books. Online exhibitions are also easier to create.
- Interactive events calendar allows users to browse events by date and location and then click through to the online shop for registration.
- Search engine provides quick access to site content and collection highlights from any page, and there are also specialized searches for collections and events.
- Galleries and slide shows are available throughout the site to better present Historic New England’s great photography. Here’s one about the animals at Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm.
- Multimedia is also supported, as seen in the Berlin & Coos County oral history project.
- Interactive map provides a visual overview of Historic New England’s 36 property locations.
- Integration with Historic New England’s online shop (developed by a third party) enables them to sell memberships, donations, event registrations, and merchandise. The shop integration will also enable single sign on between the site and the shop, allowing access to restricted content as well as member discounts on purchases.
- News has categories and feeds to position news appropriately throughout the site, and allows user commenting.
- Microsites enable visitors to rent properties for weddings and functions and to celebrate Historic New England’s centennial.
Dynamic Diagrams has been working with Historic New England since January 2009 to define web strategy, information architecture, user experience, and visual design for the site. We worked with our development partners to implement the site using the Plone CMS, to convert legacy content, and to integrate the site visually and functionally with Historic New England’s online shop. We collaborated with our partners and Historic New England’s collections team to define and develop the Collections Access portal. Finally, we and our partners trained Historic New England staff authors on Plone and writing for the web, so that they could develop new content for the site and maintain it going forward.
We are thrilled to see the site go live and congratulate Historic New England on a successful launch.