The Smithsonian Web Strategy

The Smithsonian Castle

Defining a web strategy for any organization is a tough haul.  There are lots of questions and like so many things we do, while there are all sorts of things that have to be custom to our particular needs, it sure would be helpful to look at the format of how other people do their work, especially when their work is pretty successful.

If you’re like me and you’re about to carve out a whole communication/web presence/open/transparent/I’ll keep adding slashes here effort, I strongly urge you to look at what the Smithsonian Museum continues to do with their web strategy.

The strategy itself consists of a number of goals, the context for putting the strategy online and a special area for The Smithsonian Commons.

I particularly like this passage from their Process at-a-Glance:

“The main intent of the workshops is to move relevant information to the wiki where it can be openly evaluated, sifted, weighed, and considered by all.”

Making their process sharable and open at the outset gets a lot more eyeballs on the project, and when one considers what they’re setting out to do, they’re making themselves more relevant to multiple audiences because they’ve explicitly invited people on the outside into the process — getting the Smithsonian embedded.  It helps that they’re not looking to sell you a product so much as they’re selling you on their idea: that a commons benefits all of us; not just a select few.

There are many people involved with this project at the Smithsonian, but if you’re on Twitter I highly recommend not just following the @smithsonian but also follow Michael Edson (@mpedson), the Smithsonian’s Director of Web and New Media Strategy and a driving force in the prototyping and ultimate creation of the Smithsonian Commons.