Today we went live with a mobile version of the Powerhouse Museum site. Open up http://www.powerhousemuseum.com on your phone browser and you’ll see a stripped back version of the site with the bare necessities and a slimmed down architecture.
It is a still a work in progress – we’ve been greatly impressed with how SFMOMA incorporated a mobile version into their recent website redesign – and there’s a few more tweaks to be done.
We’ve been thinking a lot about how our site might translate on a mobile – and the sorts of information users might privilege over other information when looking on their phones. Obviously separate pages for prices, location, etc that exist on the ‘normal’ site are just an annoyance on a hard-to-navigate phone interface so we slimmed it right back to one key information page, three pages of exhibition listings and what’s on information, and the collection search. You’ll notice that exhibition pages, themselves, revert to the full web version at the moment.
Here’s what it now looks like on an iPhone.
(home page 7″ edit)
(featured 7″ edit)
(collection object 7″ edit)
Designing for mobiles is still a challenge given the diversity of devices, screen sizes and plugin support. But the real challenge is information architecture. Mobile browsing is all about getting timely, pertinent, situationally relevant, slimmed down information – and most cultural organisations have spent a lot of time, money and effort doing the exact opposite.
In our sector, plugin-heavy exhibition websites still abound – especially in the art museum world, and in the science and social history museum world we go all out on deep information heavy resources. All this is wonderful (well, maybe not always the plugin stuff) if you are sitting in front of a broadband connected modern computer with a large monitor, a hot beverage, a comfortable chair and plenty of time to kill.
But on a mobile phone when you are making a snap decision as to where to take your date – or maybe you are just looking for the street address – these bells and whistles just don’t cut it. In fact they get in the way.
Next week you’ll see why the collection was so important to have working on mobiles . . .