Arts Council runs the accreditation scheme for museums. The Accreditation Scheme sets out nationally-agreed standards, which inspire the confidence of the public and funding and governing bodies. It enables museums to assess their current performance, as well as supporting them to plan and develop their services.
Initially, museums need to complete an eligibility questionnaire and send it to Arts Council. Once this is approved, the museum will be regarded as Working Towards Accreditation. Then the museum has up to 3 years to complete the policies and procedures required for the full accreditation. The Accreditation Advisor and your Museum Development officer can help you with the whole process.
For more details visit https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/accreditation-scheme/accreditation-how-apply
All materials that come into contact with collection items should be inert materials and not give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or give off other chemicals. The British Museum run oddy tests on many types of materials to see if they are suitable to use near museum collections and have published their results on their website .
All materials that come into contact with collection items should be inert materials and not give off volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or give off other chemicals. Many of these materials can be bought from sites such as Preservation Equipment LTD , Conservation Resources and Conservation By Design .
There are many ways to monitor the environment in your museum environments, from digital monitors, data recording monitor, to card humidity strips and light fading cards. For more information on the recommended environment for museum collections and how to monitor it, please refer to the Environmental Monitoring page.
The login page for you website is at https://southeastmuseums.org/wp-admin
If you have forgotten your password, go to https://southeastmuseums.org/wp-login.php?action=lostpassword and follow the instructions. Please note that these are the development URLs and will change when the site launches.
When you’re logged in, the first thing you will see is the Dashboard – this is a summary page for your WordPress installation. It can be customised, but by default it should show things like Recent Activity, and WordPress News.
The most important part of the user interface (UI) is the bar on the left. This is the main navigation for the WordPress back-end. It has a list of several sections, beginning with the types of content on your website:
It then has links to WordPress settings, Appearance options, User settings, and custom plugin options. Be careful with changing settings – if you’re not 100% sure what something does, it may be best to leave it alone. Editing content is a lot more flexible and forgiving, there is very little you can ‘break’ just by editing content.
Users are people who have access to the back-end or admin part of your website. If you do not see a specific option, bear in mind that only users who have a role of Administrator can change important settings. Users who are Editors can usually only edit content. This control is set up in Users, where new users can be added, and existing users can have their role changed, password changed, etc.
Types of content (post types)
It is important to have a good understanding of the available content types in your WordPress before making changes, or more crucially when adding new content. Almost every WordPress site we make has its own bespoke set of content types (or in WordPress lingo – post types). The main default content types are Posts and Pages. The difference is sometimes a bit tricky to understand, aside from the name, but Pages are usually ‘static’ types of content that are are individual stand-alone resources, they do not usually share common data. General articles about your organisation will usually be set up as Pages. On the other hand, Posts are more flexible, but generally used for things like Blog pages and News items. Posts can also be highly customised, and may have much more going on than just an article of text. Posts can also have Tags and Categories – these are a type of Taxonomy, which is a fancy name for classification, or categorisation.
In addition to Posts and Pages, your website may have custom post types set up. These are even more customised versions of Posts, so customised they have their own name and rules. They have different fields (places to add data) and are being used in specific and unique ways.
Please note that the content types do not necessarily correspond exactly with the front-end navigation, i.e. posts of the same type may be output in different sections of your site on the front-end.
- It is ideal to have a consistent tone of voice across all copy on a website. This creates continuity and prevents the content and organisation appearing fragmented. If there are a number of people with editorial rights to the site, you may like to have one or two central people to run copy through/sign it off to help maintain the organisation’s voice.
- Use consistent formatting when laying out text (i.e. using headings, subheadings, making text bold etc) it is best to have a standardised way of doing this.
Meet the user need
- Always keep your audience in mind when creating copy for your website. Try to think about what they would want to get from the site and what tone of voice is suitable for them. Your writing will be most effective if you understand who you’re writing for.
- To understand your audience you should know:
– How they behave, what they’re interested in or worried about – so your writing will catch their attention and answer their questions
– Their vocabulary – so that you can use the same terms and phrases they’ll use to search for content
- When you have more than one audience, make your writing as easy to read as possible so it’s accessible to everyone.
- Don’t publish everything you can online. Publish only what someone needs to know so they can complete their task. Nothing more.
- People don’t usually read text unless they want information. When you write for the web, start with the same question every time: what does the user want to know?
- Meeting that need means being:
clear and to the point
- Avoid ‘walls’ of text – break up your content into easily- digestible chunks, and use headings to create sections that humans can easily understand and take in. This is also great for search engine optimization (SEO) because headings (titles) and subheadings (summary) have greater importance than normal paragraph text for search engines. Try to think about what they contain and make the content meaningful and refer to key points of the paragraph text.
- Good online content is easy to read and understand.
- This helps people find what they need quickly and absorb it effortlessly.
Headings and titles
- Keep in mind 65 characters or less (including spaces). This is because search engines truncate (cut off) titles in Google search results over that number. Words or parts of words will be cut off.
- Make sure your title is unique. It’s not helpful for people if search results show a list of pages with the exact same title.
- Titles should be clear and descriptive. The title should provide full context so that people can easily see if they’ve found what they’re looking for
- Front-load your titles. The most important information and the words the user is mostly likely to have searched should be at the beginning of the search result.
How people read content on the web
- Users read very differently online than on paper. They don’t necessarily read top to bottom or even from word to word.
- Instead, users only read about 20 to 28% of a web page. Where users just want to complete their task as quickly as possible, they skim even more out of impatience.
- Remember that the pressure on the brain to understand increases for every 100 words you put on a page
- Web-user eye-tracking studies show that people tend to ‘read’ a webpage in an‘F’ shape pattern. They look across the top, then down the side, reading further across when they find what they need.
- What this means is: put the the most important information first. For example, say ‘Canteen menu’, not ‘What’s on the menu at the canteen today?’
- Avoid the urge to always state the name of your organisation as the first word(s). This helps people identify the most important information to them as they scan quickly through the page and is good for SEO.
- Following these (and the following) guidelines will help head off the F shape reading pattern.
Research shows that higher literacy people prefer plain English because it allows them to understand the information as quickly as possible.
For example, research into use of specialist legal language in legal documents found:
80% of people preferred sentences written in clear English – and the more complex the issue, the greater that preference (eg, 97% preferred ‘among other things’ over the Latin ‘inter alia’) the more educated the person and the more specialist their knowledge, the greater their preference for plain English
People understand complex specialist language, but don’t want to read it if there’s an alternative. This is because people with the highest literacy levels and the greatest expertise tend to have the most to read. They don’t have time to pore through reams of dry, complicated prose.
Where you need to use technical terms, you can. They’re not jargon. You just need to explain what they mean the first time you use them.
- If you are viewing the site from the front end (and are logged in) you will see ‘Edit page’ in the black bar at the top
- If you are already in the back end select Pages from the main left hand side menu
- Here you will find the static pages of your site e.g. About, Contact us etc.. and the top level page descriptions
- Click a page to edit it – a page with a dash before the title means it is a sub page of the one above.
- Edit the text directly in the text box. The editing box is known as a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) text editor, working similarly to Microsoft Word. It has controls for creating headings, links, justification, bullet lists (like this one!), etc. More information about how to use it can be found here https:// make.wordpress.org/support/user-manual/content/editors/visual-editor/
- You can also add images and videos to the text area by clicking ‘Add media’ – See more on adding images in the ‘Images’ section.
- You might not be able to see all the editing options at first – to make sure you are click the top right toggle, and a second row of options will appear:
- Here you will be able to change the heading weight by clicking the ‘Paragraph’ drop down menu:
- Generally on a website ‘Heading 1’ is reserved for the title of the whole site. ‘Heading 2’ is for page titles and ‘Heading 3’ are sub headings within a page. Therefore in the editor you should use heading 3 for headings.
- When copying and pasting from another document it is best to paste as ‘clear formatting’ this makes sure that no code has crept in from elsewhere. To do this select the clipboard with a T before pasting in any text:
- When you have edited your text and images remember to click ‘update’ near the top right.
- To make the page you are editing a sub-page (known as a child page) of another page (known as a parent page) select the page from the ‘parent page’ drop down menu in the Page Attributes box on the right. For example the following image shows a page that is a sub page of Contact us:
- You can order the sub pages manually by entering a number into the ‘order’ field. 0 will come out first and then 1,2,3 etc.. The easiest way to do this is to go back to the list of all your pages and click ‘Quick edit’ on each one and enter the number.
- To view the page on the front end click the ‘View page’ link at the top left of the screen (see image below) – it is best to always have the front end open in a different window when editing:
- Remember if you are editing content from the back-end of WordPress you will need to refresh the front-end page to view the change you have made.
- You can set the page to be visible to the public or private. This option is under ‘visibility’ in the publish panel:
- Here you can also schedule when you want the page to be published by clicking the ‘Edit’ button under the published on date. If a date in the future is entered then the page will not be viewable by the public until that date. If a date in the past is entered then the sub-pages will order in publication date on the menu page – this is useful for older news items or events.
- Clicking ‘Revisions’ will show you all the edits that have been made to that page, there is a slider where you can slide backwards and forwards in time to see the changes, this is useful if you deleted something that you wish to recover.
Your top level category pages (which live under Support i.e. Accreditation, Conservation, Grants, Sharing Skills, Training) are structured a little differently.
- The main image editor is underneath the text edit area
- When you edit the image you will be able to edit the caption directly in the caption field
- You can also select which other content boxes you wish to appear on the page
- UPDATE WITH MORE INSTRUCTIONS
Your home page is under Pages as Welcome to the South East Museum Development Programme – Front page
- You won’t need to put anything into the first text editor
- Scroll down to where it says ‘main feature panels’
- The images will be the large image that spans the screen, so you will need to think about something that works in this space and with white text over the top
- The panel heading and panel text appear as the main text over the image
- You can add a new one by clicking ‘Add row’
- The site will show a random one from your selection on each page load.
- Much of your resources and articles can be found under Posts, this is so they can be distributed in varying / multiple places across the site
- On the right hand side of a post you can select a category that it belongs to, this will inform where it appears on the front end
- On a job post you can set an expiry date using the date picker on the right hand side, select the month, year and then day to fill in the field. You can also type it straight in. When this date comes around the post will disappear from the site and will move to Trash in the back end. After 30 days it will be deleted automatically.
- To edit the main category text on the page go to Posts > Categories. You can also edit the image which will appear at the top of the page.
- If you have received an email notification from a third party museum who has posted a job you will be able to go into Posts and see them as drafts. As an admin you will be able to check the information and publish the post to the site.
- Images should ideally be no less than 2000px on the shortest side. It’s best not to go below this size so that the image remains at good quality for high retina screens. Images for the web must be in .jpeg, .png or .gif format
- Avoid using ‘rogue’ characters in file names. When saving any image or document for use on the web you should not include any characters other than those from the alphabet (lowercase) and underscores (_) – this includes spaces. If you do include characters such as spaces or & or , in file names this may cause problems displaying them.
- To insert an image into a page or post click the ‘Add Media’ button at the top left of the editing panel.
- The ‘featured image’ is usually the image that will be the main ’chosen’ image to represent the page and will appear in any listing pages. (e.g. if it is on an event this is the image that will appear in the listing of all the events).
- Featured Image is usually found at the bottom right of the editing page.
- When selecting ‘Add Media’ or ‘Set featured image’ you will see a library of all the media (images, sound files, video files) you (and everyone else) have uploaded so far.
- You can either select an image from the library or upload a new one from your computer.
- Although the media library isn’t ordered you can search for images using the search box. The search will look for any text associated with that image, so filling in the title and alt text field is really useful for this.
- Click ‘insert into page’ or ‘set featured image’
- When the image is in the page you can click on it it to reveal some editing options which appear at the top, this allows you to make some basic edits to the image e.g. left, centre or right align the image:
- Clicking the pencil icon will bring up some more editing options such as resizing the image.
- There is a drop down list of built in image sizes under ‘size’ – often when you first insert an image into a post it is too small, so it is a good idea to check this and make sure it is set to the appropriate size for the page.
- Linking images – If you want the image to link to a page on the site then you can change it to ‘Custom URL’ and enter the URL of the page you want it to go to. If you don’t want it to link to anywhere then select ‘none’ from the list.
- Image alt text is used by screen readers to describe an image to people with visual impairments when having a website read out aloud to them. Without alt text the screen reader just reads the word ‘image’ when reading the webpage. As you can imagine this can be very frustrating for the user. There is a field in the media library called ‘Alt text’ – you will see this on the right hand side when an image is selected. Enter your description of the image here. Search engines will mark the site down if the alt text field is left blank.
- You can also edit the alt text by clicking on the pencil symbol.
- Avoid lists of links, instead try to incorporate them into paragraph text. This gives them more meaning and puts them into the context of how they may be useful. People are unlikely to scroll through lists of links looking for what they want and search engines will mark you down if you have links pages.
- To create a link in a body of text, highlight the text that you want to be a link and click the chain symbol at the top of the text panel.
- You can either paste in a link straight away if you know it or select the cog for more link options:
- Here you can search for pages within your site.
- If you are linking to an outside web source you must put the whole URL in including the http://
- Use meaningful links – Rather than using ‘Click here’ or ‘Read more’ try to have meaningful link text. This is beneficial in terms of search engine results as they tend to look for links when searching.
- Pasting the original url into the site can look ugly, instead highlight some descriptive text and insert the link by clicking the chain symbol. This is also best for SEO as Google reads all the links in the site.
- Do not tick the box for the link to open in a new window. This is very bad for accessibility as it can disorientate the user
- Avoid using directions when highlighting a link e.g. ‘Click the link on the right hand side of the page’ It may be on the right hand side when you are editing the site but won’t necessarily be every time as there are different layouts for different screen sizes and devices.
- To edit or add to the FAQs in your ‘Got a quick question’? go to FAQs on the left hand side
- Select Add New, a FAQ post is very much the same as another page or post, you can add images and links in the same way
- Select the FAQ category from the right hand check list. This will ensure it is pulled through to the correct category on the FAQ drop down
- It is best to decide up front the tone of the site so it remains consistent – this can differ in different sections, for example a blog post or story feature can be more conversational and from the first person.
- For consistency, decide on preferred formats, terms and conventions for commonly used content e.g:– Dates (e.g. 25th Nov 2017 or 25/11/17)
– Times (12 or 24 hr clock)
– Period dates (e.g. 19th Century or 1800s)
– Measurements & units
– Pricing / costs (£1 or 1GBP)
– Wars (WW1 or First World War)
- This should follow what is in your print and promotional material
- Make sure everyone who is contributing to the site is aware of these.
When a website is designed with accessibility in mind and built correctly to be inclusive to everyone, users will have equal access to its information and functionality. A site that is not built accessibly will present barriers to people with disabilities that prevent them from accessing the content or using the site at all.
So when you’re creating content for a site – or updating a current website’s content – it’s useful to know what the most common barriers to access are, so you can avoid them.
The following information is thorough and therefore we have included points that will be controlled by the coding of the website (e.g. the text size and colours) but it is useful for you to be aware of.
Eight Most Common Barriers to Access
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20/) has 65 checkpoints. Research has found that 82% of access problems are related to 8 of these points – some of which will affect the creation of content. We’ve included all 8 barriers here as they help to explain a little about how people with disabilities use the web:
Divide blocks of information into more manageable units
Check all the text and try to make it clear and concise and avoid long, wordy passages.
You can divide the info up by adding photos and images, and organise it into subject areas and use headers. Breaking it down into smaller chunks will also make it easier to digest.
WHY: adding headings and splitting the text into smaller chunks make content easier to understand. Many users (including those with reading difficulties such as dyslexia or those with visual impairments) will find long and wordy passages hard to wade through – breaking it down will help them and many others to understand what you’re trying to say.
Add an overview to every page: add a short description at the start of each page saying what the section is about, to help give the user an idea of what the main content is and what their main options are.
WHY: some users can’t glance at or scroll around a page to get an idea of what’s there (e.g. if they’re a blind screen reader user or using adapted hardware due to restricted movement). One or two lines about what’s on this page will help clarify what’s coming up and decide whether to spend more time on the page or not. It’s a quick snapshot of what’s coming up in case they can’t see or process the visual information themselves, and will save them time and energy of having to move around slowly and work it out for themselves.
Increase ‘leading’ (space between lines of text) – it’s harder to read blocks of text when the lines are close together.
WHY: increased space between lines improves legibility for everyone.
Ensure that foreground and background colours have sufficient contrast
Contrast between text and background colours needs to be high to provide good contrast
Another point related to overall legibility (rather than colour contrast) is to ensure that a clear font is used throughout, and some effects such as italics are avoided – many partially sighted users find these effects harder to read.
WHY: increased colour contrast and clear font choices makes it easier for users with reading difficulties to read. Conversely low contrast, such as grey text on a beige background, make it much harder to read.
Avoid creating pop-ups and new windows without informing the user
If any content opens in a new browser tab or window it’s polite to inform users this is about to happen so they know what to expect.
WHY: if the user isn’t told that a new window is about to open up, they can get ‘lost’ within that window and not know how to get back to the original site. This is especially frustrating for some assistive technology users, e.g. a blind screen reader user won’t know that they’ve moved to a new window and might become stuck there or at least frustrated that they have to work their way back.
Provide a text equivalent for every non-text element
Add captions and descriptive alt text to all photos, images and maps used throughout the site.
WHY: Adding information and alt text to every image makes visual content more accessible to partially sighted magnifier users and blind screen reader users as well as compatible with other assistive technologies. A short text description of an image can unlock the information within a picture and enrich the experience and understanding of a story for users – alternatively, without it, images will be inaccessible for blind and partially sighted users. Related to this, images do help to liven up the content, but ensure that images used as simple and with high contrast if possible.
Add captions and transcripts of the audio element of all videos and any audio clips. It would be even more useful if you could also provide transcripts (the written script) of written or spoken content. To make video accessible to BSL users, it’s also good practice to include at least an introductory ‘welcome’ video with BSL. This would give BSL users an initial flavor of the site and venue – and feel welcomed by them.
WHY: adding captions and a transcript increases accessibility of any written or audio content for everyone, including Deaf or hard of hearing users, or users trying to understand the content without access to speakers or in a quiet environment. As a minimum, add a link to a transcript which outlines all the spoken and audio and visual content within video or audio files. This enables any user to review it separately or makes is easier to copy and share information.
Clearly identify the target of each link
Ensure all links are consistently labelled, that they look suitably different to the normal body text and that they look like links. Avoid labelling links as ‘here’ or ‘click here’ as out of the context of the page they don’t tell the user anything about where they’ll lead them.
WHY: links need to make sense even if they stand alone, as many assistive technology users will short-cut to a list of links on a page as a way of getting a quick impression of what content is available on that page. Making links look consistent follows standard conventions for navigation and will make the site as usable and accessible as possible, as users will know what to expect as they explore the site.
Review how the main menu options are presented and simplify them where possible. Keep the top menu bar as uncluttered as possible (as well as the further drop-down options). Options need to be separated out very clearly to make them easy for users to differentiate.
WHY: we should simplify navigation options as much as possible, adding lines between each of the options to help users to see more clearly what the different options are. Without them the options will potentially all run together (especially for those with reading difficulties or those who are partially sighted). There are other ways of helping the user to work out where they are on the site and to keep their thread, including the use of a crumb-trail.
Use the clearest and simplest language appropriate for the site’s content
Where possible use clear and simple language to make it as easy as possible to understand, and avoid using jargon. You could include some content in Easy Read format, which was created to make content more accessible for users with learning difficulties, e.g. see some examples on the BILD site (British Institute of Learning Disabilities): http://www.bild.org.uk/resources/easy-read-information/
Use a large clear font – in terms of font size, a lot of the text on the site is too small. Ensure that the default font throughout the site is larger.
WHY: increasing the font size will make the text easier for everyone to read, and will be essential for people with reading difficulties. Some users will need to make it larger still so all text needs to be scalable.
Ensure that pages work when scripts and applets are not supported
A site should work independently if Java Script or applets are switched off/not supported.
Related to this, I recommend that clients explain very clearly how to change any in-built accessibility features that are included on the site, and add some information about how to adjust different devices to increase accessibility – via a link to an Accessibility Options section.
WHY: accessibility options or controls built into websites vary a lot, so it’s helpful to list any features that have been included so the user knows that they’re there and how to use them, e.g. how to adjust the font size or change the background colours and colour contrast options. It’s also good practice to include a contact email or number for users to send any accessibility feedback or suggestions, to demonstrate that you see accessibility as an ongoing process and are looking for how to support your users as well as possible.
The Accessibility section could include: a list of the access features on the site, suggestions for how to adjust settings and an appeal for feedback from users. I suggest adding this content via a link which appears prominently on the site (e.g. via the top menu bar) – there are many examples of how to present this information, e.g. see the Brighton Museums Web Accessibility page: http://brightonmuseums.org.uk/about-us/policies/accessibility/web-accessibility/
Avoid movement until it can be frozen.
e.g. A moving image slider on the home page is a barrier to access, as it can’t be paused.
WHY: research from user testing has found that many users, including those with learning difficulties and reading difficulties, can find a sliding carousel of images very distracting and reduces their ability to understand the content. At a minimum it needs to be clear how to pause this moving content.
We are happy to advertise museum jobs in the south east via our website and newsletter. There is no charge. Please visit https://southeastmuseums.org/job/ to input your job details. We will then check and add them to the website and, if appropriate, the job will also be included in the newsletter.
The newsletter comes out once a month, so we recommend getting your advertisement submitted as soon as possible.
South East Museum Development has a small grants programme that museums can apply to.
There are also funding opportunities available with the following organisations:
Your local Museum Development officer can offer advice on completing the applications.
South East Museum Development training is open to all volunteers, staff and Trustees of accredited museums in the south east. Freelancers in the sector are also welcome.
If you would like to attend a training but are not sure if you are eligible, please contact your local Museum Development Officer.
Visit our training page for more details about forthcoming training opportunities
This lists training organised by the South East Museum Development and by other organisations. Click on the title to find out more about the training and book your place.
Other courses run by external providers may have a charge.