Project Draft: Omeka and the Historical Society of the DC Circuit Court

For the past several weeks I have been working with my public history class to create an online catalog and exhibit for the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit Court. While we still have a long way to go before completing the project, we have made substantial progress on the site and finally have a draft up and running at http://dcchs.omeka.net/!

So far the most substantial progress made on the project has been the completion of the online catalog of the historical society’s collection of judicial portraits. If you click on the archives tab you can see an entry for each portrait that includes information about the judge and the painting. While two of my other group members also helped with the catalog, I entered in the information for the judges between Joyce Hen Greene and Joseph C. McGarraghy (these judges are located on pages 6-8 in the archives section).

Now that we have completed the majority of the work on the catalog portion of the site, my group has shifted focus to creating an exhibit and lesson plans. While the majority of the work for these projects has not yet been included in Omeka, we have made substantial progress on writing the exhibit script and gathering information to create K-12 lesson plans. We plan to finish both of these projects by March 30th so that we will have time to make final edits to the site before the final drafts of our project are due.

In addition to the exhibit and lesson plans, we are also considering including a site survey to receive feedback from visitors. This would allow the historical society to track the progress on the site and learn of any problems that visitors experience while using the page. Can you think of anything else that we should include on the site? Are we missing anything that you think would really add to the web page? Please leave feedback here!

One Reply to “Project Draft: Omeka and the Historical Society of the DC Circuit Court”

  1. It is great to see this project moving along. Don’t hesitate to ask me for any clarification on some of these points and questions.

    Design feedback: I think your header is to big. It really pushes a lot of your content far down the page and particularly for folks that are going to have small screens it is going to be a big impediment to getting to the site content. The other big issue I saw here is that for a site that is about portraits I didn’t see any images. I would imagine that that would be the opposite of what you want 🙂 In my opinion every page on the site should have images, so the individual item pages should really have the images, but beyond that it would be good to incorporate the thumbnail images in the search results pages. For example, I built both of these sites with Omeka and I tired to make sure that every page uses the attached images. http://playinghistory.org/ and http://playingscience.org/

    Now my last piece of design feedback is that one of Omeka’s best features is it’s ability to pull out content from the archive and display it in any number of modes. I would encourage your team to think about doing something like I did on the playinghistory or playingscience sites for the homepage and get some of the recent or featured items up there and or use a tag cloud or something to provide a point of view into what is inside your collection.

    Content Feedback: This is great, you guys have a clear plan for this and a clear audience so kudos.

    k-12 Lesson Plans: This is a cool idea. Now if you want to do this you really need to figure out what grade level you can make something for and make sure you are meeting those students and teachers needs. This would involve doing a little bit of digging for standards. You want to know when students learn about the courts and what they learn about the courts if you are going to be able to make something that might get used.

    Survey: Surveys are great, but as the core audience for this project is people at the courthouse I would encourage you to skip that and instead try to set up a few times between now and when your done to sit down with someone who is supposed to use this and see what is and isn’t working. There is no substitute for getting user testing when you can get it and as you have a clearly defined primary user I would try to get that person infront of this a few times and see what is and isn’t confusing about it.

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