Digital accessibility at the Natural History Museum

Why digital accessibility is important to the Museum

Digital accessibility is crucial to help support the Museum’s new core values and deliver its strategy.

We champion diversity. We embrace the challenge of creating a diverse and inclusive organisation and recognise the benefits it brings. We are approachable and welcoming, engaging with different needs and perspectives. We seek out information and share ideas widely and in a variety of ways.

NHM Strategy to 2031

It’s vital that we are a diverse and inclusive organisation. It’s equally important that everyone can experience the Museum and what we offer. This is part of our strategic goal to engage and involve the widest possible audience.

To meet this goal, we need to ensure our digital experiences are accessible to everyone.

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Semantic document outlines and heading structures

A laptop with some code on the screen

Last year, we had a big focus on accessibility – it’s vital that we are a diverse and inclusive organisation and it’s equally important that everyone can experience the Museum and what we offer. This is part of our strategic goal to engage and involve the widest possible audience. To meet this goal, we need to ensure our digital experiences are accessible to everyone.

In March 2020, we tested our website with real assistive technology users, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Urban Nature Project. Following this, we released 25 separate changes to the main nhm.ac.uk website between May-September 2020, each one helping us get a step closer to meeting AA WCAG accessibility standards. You can read more about our work on digital accessibility here.

We could see from accessibility testing that the majority of our pages have the correct structure, and that where they don’t, there are only minor difficulties in navigating the pages. This led to me reviewing the document structure/outline of some of our pages on nhm.ac.uk as we knew they are not as optimised for accessibility – i.e. screen reader and keyboard-only users – as we would like. Continue reading “Semantic document outlines and heading structures”

Lockdown introduces a new method for engaging with our collections | Curator of Micropaleontology

Nikon

2020 has been a difficult year and since March we have been working away from the collections in South Kensington. Learning new on-line communication skills has created opportunities for making our collections available to a wider audience.

Read on to find how using Microsoft Teams and a Nikon microscope we have remotely delivered access to our Micropalaeontology collections for the first time.

Continue reading “Lockdown introduces a new method for engaging with our collections | Curator of Micropaleontology”

Recreating Wildlife Photographer of the Year online – part 2 – key site features

With the platform and CSS approach covered in Part 1 (Link), I’ll go into detail about some of the key technical features and functionality we built out for the site (www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy). We’ll cover the core image gallery solution with it’s API filtering and Flickr style image layout. Then jump into the lazy loading and next gen image format topics, before finally covering the page routing architecture of this API-driven site.

Continue reading “Recreating Wildlife Photographer of the Year online – part 2 – key site features”

Recreating Wildlife Photographer of the Year online – part 1 – Introduction and technical approach

https://www.nhm.ac.uk/wpy

Introduction

I’ve been involved with the Wildlife Photographer of the Year brand for as long as I’ve been at the Natural History Museum, which let’s just say is a long time. I’m still very proud and privileged to work on such important and inspirational content.

This series of posts is about the recent re-platform of our ageing WPY microsite. I’ll start by setting the scene for how the project came about and then dive into some of the technical decisions. Later on I’ll talk about some of the site’s key features and what we’ve learnt with the tech and working towards a more modern API-driven web architecture. It’s been great having something so rewarding to work and focus on during these strange and difficult times in lock-down. 

Continue reading “Recreating Wildlife Photographer of the Year online – part 1 – Introduction and technical approach”

Creating a new promotional banner component for the launch of the Anthropocene hub

A homepage takeover component, created for the launch of the Anthropocene hub

The Museum’s new strategy to 2031 has been announced, with a call to arms to take action against the current environmental crisis facing our planet.

In the lead up to the announcement, the Connect product team in the Digital Media department were tasked with a brief: to deliver an impactful “takeover” of the Museum’s homepage which grabbed the attention of the user while not only conveying a sense that urgent action was needed, but delivering a message of hope for the planet’s future, not despair.

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How we created a dark theme for Museum of the Moon

At the Natural History Museum, we’re looking for opportunities to increase the richness of the user experience of our website. So when the Museum of the Moon exhibition was in planning earlier this year, we had the opportunity to improve its exhibition page.

In this post, I’d like to take you through the Digital Team’s approach to creating and testing the new look page, and users’ responses to it.  Continue reading “How we created a dark theme for Museum of the Moon”

‘Copycat’ Lates: zine making workshop

Ever experimenting with new ways of reaching to audiences, 29th March saw a small contingent from the content team and willing volunteers host a zine making workshop at the Natural History Museum Lates.

The theme of the evening was ‘Copy Cats’ and was all about exploring the ways that nature has inspired scientists and engineers to explore new solutions, from architecture to medical technologies.

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Trying something new – building the Life in the Dark interactive splash | Digital Media at the NHM

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit/exhibitions/life-in-the-dark.html

As part of the museum’s Life in the Dark exhibition digital content offer, we decided to try something new for our exhibition landing page to help promote interest and engagement.  We ended up using a new mix of front end technologies to build it, so here’s a (long) technical walk through of the various challenges and solutions we encountered.

Continue reading “Trying something new – building the Life in the Dark interactive splash | Digital Media at the NHM”