What’s a Live Refresh? It’s our way of giving a website a quick improvement with just content — no design changes, no downtime, and minimal cost.
We’ve just done a Live Refresh for the Arkansas Country Doctor Museum. They had a nice theme installed by a volunteer, but no planned homepage, little content, and empty pages. They also had lots of resources, from photos to documents to great stories.
The museum wanted a website volunteers could update, and once we talked they could see that they could do much more with their website than they had realized they could.
We sat down with board members and volunteers to figure out their goals and preferences for the site, and then we got to work. Here are some of the significant changes we made:
First, we made a strong static homepage for the site. In addition to providing a welcome for visitors, the optimized content on this page helps search engines understand what the ACDM is all about.
The museum provided photos, both historic images and current snapshots from the museum. While a new design would be nice, simply adding some images with the tools in WordPress jazzed up their homepage considerably and helps to give prospective visitors an idea of what they might see at the museum.
For the same reason, we added a rotating gallery of small photos in the sidebar along with their hours and announcements. The homepage now gives visitors a clear idea of what the museum has to offer and how they can get it.
Some interior pages were empty and some had outdated table layouts. We added content and reformatted what was already there. The new pages use modern WordPress code and are easier to read, as well as providing more value for visitors and better communication with search engines.
We created an Exhibits page in the form of a blog page with some sample posts so staff members could easily add more information about the many artifacts in the museum over time. With no dates and a simple, consistent structure, the information can grow as time allows without ever looking incomplete or neglected, even if there are many people working on it.
The site also contains many PDF documents, often very large files, as well as large photo files.These pages contain only a fraction of all the documents the museum owns, and they’re not certain how they want to make this information available to researchers. We’ll be meeting with the staff to help them determine how to organize all these pages and media files to make them findable and to make sure that they support the overall goals of the museum.
We added the Yoast SEO plugin and configured it so that page and post titles would be usable, updated the settings, and added some other plugins to make the lives of the museum staff and volunteers easier, and we installed Google Analytics so the museum can learn more about the people they serve. We plan to work further with the museum to make the administration area of the website work well with their process and workflow.