Reorganizing the Hive
MHS Launches New Homepage
On 9 September 2009, the MHS launched its new homepage to an overwhelmingly positive response. The impetus for the redesign was the desire to represent the scope and depth of the Society's extensive—and constantly expanding—digital content without making the homepage appear too cluttered. The MHS also wanted to recognize the different needs and interests of its audiences—researchers, educators, and members of the general public interested in American history. The previous homepage had an enormous range of materials that were invaluable to these groups. Unfortunately, as time went on and the amount of information on the homepage increased, it became crowded and difficult to manage—there was too much information and not enough organization.
The new MHS homepage tackles this problem by streamlining the content and changing the focus from advertising all of the Society's extensive digital resources to connecting visitors with what they are looking for. A large banner informs all website visitors of new exhibitions, digital collections, and important events. The space below the large banner is organized into three sections by the ways different audiences use the MHS—Research, Classroom Tools, and Browse. Each of the three sections features a spotlight on a particular resource, as well as links to online materials geared toward the interests of the three target audiences. A series of tabs on the right-hand side of the page provide visitors with the latest MHS news, events, and blog posts, as well as ways to become more involved with the MHS. A more comprehensive search tool, which provides a keyword search of the entire web site, is located in the top right-hand corner of the homepage.
Regular visitors to the site may find that important tools and favorite features have moved from their former locations but are still easily available on the homepage or from one of the drop-down menus. ABIGAIL, the MHS online catalog, has moved slightly but is still on the right-hand side of the homepage. The Object of the Month will appear in the banner at the beginning of each month and will always be available via the Online pull-down menu. The myriad other digital content originally highlighted on the homepage has been compiled into a list of online resources entitled MHS Collections Online, which is also available under the Online pull-down menu.
The new homepage design is the result of months of work from a wide cross-section of the MHS staff and is the third part of a four-part plan to update the MHS website. The earlier stages included a review of the website's text and a complete overhaul of the web infrastructure. The fourth part of the plan is a redesign of the remainder of the website, including the pull-down menus, which is planned for 2010. Feedback and questions about the new homepage are welcome and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.