Victoria and Albert Museum

Our brief said:

We want our website to bring the V&A to life online. We want our digital experiences to live up to the V&A’s physical presence as a vibrant, active, continually changing place. It is time for change.

We want to inspire more people to visit. Our aspiration is to offer a seamless transition from browsing your iPad on the sofa at home, or searching on your desktop at work to turning up to visit the Museum. So the goal for this phase of our digital transformation is to turn more of the 14.5 million visits to our website each year into visits to the Museum.

2) The creative idea

We aimed to design experiences around our online audience and their needs and behaviours. So we looked at our web analytics, stats from market research and other sources to build a behavioural segmentation of our online audience. We identified four types of online behaviour:

  • the general visitor (quick engagement, high intent to visit)
  • the enthusiast (deep engagement, high intent to visit)
  • the researcher (deep engagement, discovery mode)
  • the inspiration seeker (quick engagement, discovery mode)

We knew from our analytics that the overwhelming majority of online visits (sessions) are from general visitors – those who want to find out what’s on and other practical information about the museum. Given they make up 70% of the audience, this group became the priority audience for the new website.

Unlike most off-the-shelf content-management systems, which are based on articles, our bespoke content management system uses the museum object as the atomic unit of content. This gives us the freedom to curate objects online in a way that’s conceptually similar to how we do it in the museum itself.

We pull in data from the museum record in our collections management system (which provides images, a biography of the object, and its location in the museum) via our collections API. We then enhance that data with richer content like articles and video. The objects in our collection can therefore be portable in a way that they will never be in the physical space.

3) Evidence of how the idea was received by the target audience

Our ultimate goal is to turn more of the 14.5 million visits to our website each year into visits to the museum and our strategy is already bearing fruit. From the day the new website launched (April 2016) we saw an absolute step change in the way that people engage with the revamped visit-focussed content:

  • People are staying for longer - time on page has increased by 20%
  • People are more engaged - pages per session up by 30%
  • People are exploring further - bounce rates have dropped by 20%

Best of all, our audiences love the new website. According to our Twitter followers this is “A very beautiful site from @V_and_A With all the information you need in the places you'd look for it” and “OMG a museum that actually puts opening hours, location and cost on its front page. Thank you.”

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