Throughout all the disruptions and lockdowns of the last year, the Digital Media Team have been hard at work replacing Search the Collections, our online collections database, with redesigned pages and new functionality. Our Explore the Collections Beta is launching today, and you will be able to explore over a million V&A objects in new and exciting ways and learn more about their history, techniques, and makers. We would love you to have a play and give us your feedback. To find out more about we’ve done you can read Kati’s blog, or discover the new pages for yourself.
What is Beta?
This public Beta is a chance for us to test and get feedback on a live service. It also lets us share our new pages with you while we continue to work on the next version.
We’ve been developing Explore the Collections using an agile approach, building up the experience through Discovery, Alpha and Beta development phases. We started with Discovery, including user research which gave us insight into how the V&A’s online collections are used. In our Alpha phase we used prototypes to do some initial research on the object pages. Then we developed some minimalist web pages to gather feedback internally before moving into our public Beta phase.
Though we’ve been able to keep working remotely during lockdown, Coronavirus has of course made our jobs harder. We’d planned to do more user research but Covid-19 forced us to change tack. This means that you are among the first people outside the Museum to see Explore the Collections. It also means that we’ve had to make some assumptions when building the Beta – so once we can gather your feedback, we fully expect to have to make changes that will improve your experience and better meet your needs.
Because this is a Beta version of Explore the Collections, your feedback is especially important for us to be able to continue to develop our website. We want to ensure that we meet the needs of people exploring our collections online. We have a survey for you to feedback your thoughts, both good and bad, on Explore the Collections Beta. As part of the survey, you can also volunteer to be part of user research on Beta and further iterations.
The next phase will involve gathering and evaluating feedback, both qualitative and quantitative, from users. Then we will prioritise improvements to our Beta. We also have a list of features that make up our next version release, including new pages that give more information about artists, materials, techniques, and many other parts of our collection.