The Pasadena Museum of History has been around for 90 years, performing the important function of promoting appreciation of history and culture in Pasadena. But in recent years, its staff was concerned that its message wasn’t adequately reaching potential visitors and supporters through the museum website.
Enter Kyle Hudson, a Jericho Road Pasadena volunteer with a strong background in web development.
Hudson peered into the catacombs of the PMH site and feared getting lost. “It was pretty apparent from the beginning that it was an amalgam of a couple of different sites,” he said. “It was a site that had been tacked onto, and there were just hundreds of pages of content and images and links.”
What had initially been planned as a website redesign quickly took on the dimensions of a reconstruction. Hudson labored on it for over a year, and ultimately he and fellow volunteer Natalie MacLees and JRP Site Director Melanie Goodyear logged about 220 hours on the project.
What would that have cost the museum if it had hired a consultant on the open market? “I believe the fairly typical amount for web design was $100 per hour,” said Emily Leiserson, volunteer manager at PMH. “That’s $22,000. For our museum budget, that would be a very significant amount for us. We just wouldn’t have been able to do that.”
Hudson realized early on that it would be counterproductive to transfer all of the content to the new site he was building from scratch. So he concentrated on material that would attract visitors, as opposed to the museum’s internal matters. “You’ve got to almost switch your brain a little bit and think about what’s going to be most pertinent to people coming to visit,” he said.
The site is still undergoing usability testing and hasn’t officially launched yet, but PMH’s goals were surely met in the project, according to Leiserson. “I think our biggest focus with the website is to bring more people to the museum and make it very clear about what we offer,” she said. “We hope driving traffic brings more positive things as well.”
Thanks to JRP volunteer Eric Noland for writing this article! Eric is editor of the Pasadena, San Marino and La Canada Outlook newspapers.