Optimizing the Website

Culminating in 2019, the USHMM’s Optimizing the Website project upgraded the core infrastructure of the institutions website using an audience-first approach to ensure that the content for each section:

  • Meets the needs of the audience it serves.
  • Is optimized and available for any device a person uses to access it. 

The project not only improved the experience for visitors but also served internal goals by bringing together staff from seven offices to learn a new way of working on digital products that prioritized external audiences’ needs and perspectives. It also introduced staff to the practice of iterative design and development and a new model for teamwork. 

The project advanced the following three institutional priorities articulated in the Museum’s strategic plan:

  • Build the collection of record: Optimizing the Research and Collections section directly advanced this priority by making it easier for collections donors (current and prospective) to learn about the Museum’s collection and opportunities to donate.
  • Expand and diversify our audiences: Optimizing the Program Office-related sections, as well as the Museum Information/Plan a Visit section, makes it easier for people to find what they’re looking for online, using whatever device they choose
    • Note: We have seen increases in website traffic from mobile devices for all optimized sections. For example, for the Plan Your Visit section, the mobile audience rose from 26% to 42% of total audience. 
  • Secure the future of the Museum: Optimizing the Support the Museum section as well as the Program Office sections makes our fundraising priorities clearer to donors and demonstrates the impact of their contributions.

While probably invisible to the public, the content and infrastructure changes to the extensive www.ushmm.org property have been adjusted to more closely suit visitor needs and preferences, whatever devices they choose to use. Over the course of the project, staff revised more than 1,500 pages of content that cumulatively is viewed by approximately 2.7 million people each year. As a result of this project, we expect more people to visit the site from mobile devices, and for them to spend more time on site engaging with the optimized content.