A new project is helping secure the online future of some of Bath’s most popular visitor attractions.
The five websites include the sites for the Council’s flagship Roman Baths, Fashion Museum and Victoria Art Gallery, which are increasingly using the online channel. The project also includes Bath Record Office, and the corporate hospitality site, Heritage Hospitality.
The twelve-month programme for Bath and North East Somerset Council enables them to promote their work online to a national and international audience with sites available in many languages. The project has been undertaken in partnership with Fusion Workshop (www.fusionworkshop.co.uk) the Cardiff-based web developers with customer across the UK.
Five websites are migrating to a new ‘future-proof’ online platform ensuring that the history of these prime heritage attractions remain accessible to travelling visitors and on-line students alike.
The Council is creating websites that are accessible, search-engine friendly and are based on a stable Content Management System (CMS) with a clearly defined roadmap. The CMS selected was Alterian Content Manager Corporate, formerly known as Immediacy, with the five websites moving onto Microsoft’s .NET platform. Fusion Workshop’s expertise with these technologies is being utilised to ensure a smooth implementation and a ‘future-proofed’ solution. By creating a new platform for the sites, the Council will be able to explore new Web 2.0 technologies such as user generated content.
Fusion Workshop has been developing Bath and North East Somerset Council’s online presence since 2001. This adoption has stood the Council in good stead over the past eight years with potential visitors able to view virtual displays of the museums’ collections and take virtual tours of the exhibition galleries before visiting the attractions themselves. Integration with Micromuse, the Collection Management software has created a richer user experience.
Chris Short, Managing Director at Fusion Workshop explains: “We wanted to ensure that Bath & North East Somerset Council remain at the cutting edge in offering accessible, secure and unique online visitor experiences whether they choose to make the journey to Bath or prefer to have their cultural experiences online. Over the past three years .NET has become widely adopted for quality, security and flexibility. And Alterian Content Manager gives a sound platform for future development.”
Patricia Dunlop, Commercial Manager, Heritage Services at Bath & North East Somerset Council said: “It is notable that the sites have stood the test of time on the platform. However, the time has come to future-proof the sites for the next decade and the .NET platform together with the ongoing development support from Fusion Workshop and Alterian will enable us to achieve this.
“The new Alterian-based websites will make it easier for a variety of staff in different sections of our service to update the sites themselves, rather than relying on one person in the team, thereby ensuring the data is accurate and up-to-date. Website promotion has become the most important aspect of the marketing mix and we make full use of the e-newsletter functionality to communicate with our growing database of subscribers. More recently we have also started incorporating user-generated content into the sites, which we expect to become a big feature in the next few years.”
On selecting Fusion Workshop as a partner, she said: “One of Fusion Workshop’s strengths is their considerable experience of bi-lingual and multi-lingual sites, which is important to us because at least 20% of our visitors have only limited English. The Fashion Museum website already exists in four languages and therefore simplicity in uploading and updating content is essential.
“Since the start, Fusion Workshop has shared our commitment to accessible websites and we are delighted that the Alterian Content Manager migration will incorporate as standard best practice in accessibility. The new platform even has automatic checks to ensure that the sites continue to be accessible as the content grows.
“We believe this strategy will allow the Council to remain a good example to other councils and organisations on how heritage, which is so vitally important, can remain accessible and we would welcome them to come see how it’s been achieved.”

Ends.

NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. About Bath & North East Somerset Council:

The five websites which are run by the Heritage Services section of Bath & North East Somerset Council include:
http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/
http://www.fashionmuseum.co.uk/
http://www.victoriagal.org.uk/
http://www.batharchives.co.uk/
http://www.bathvenues.co.uk/

The Roman Baths and the famous Pump Room above it receive more than 1 million visitors per annum, half of them from overseas. Most of these have never visited the UK before and are making their first trip to the Bath area.
The Roman Baths were built in the first century AD as a religious spa and temple. They were visited by pilgrims from all over the Roman Empire for nearly four hundred years until they fell into decline in the fourth century. The museum has a Roman collection of international importance including 12,000 Roman coins deposited in the hot spring at the centre of the site. This collection and related items of more recent local history will be showcased on the new websites.
The complex is also popular among schoolchildren at key stages 2 and 3 who study the Romans as part of the national curriculum. The new website includes film footage of a typical school visit, created by local film company Constellation Media Ltd to assist teachers in their planning.
The Fashion Museum collection is internationally renowned and is housed in Bath’s magnificent Assembly Rooms, built in 1771. This website is the most popular of all, because of a worldwide interest in historic fashion. It and the Victoria Art Gallery each receive 100,000 visitors per annum. The Gallery has a popular temporary exhibition programme including some selling exhibitions by prominent local artists. These are supported by on-line catalogues of the works for sale.
The Bath Record Office website is a must for people researching their family history, which nowadays relies heavily on on-line access to relevant information.

2. About the Project:

Fusion Workshop has been looking after the Fashion Museum website since 1999 and those for the Bath Record Office, Roman Baths and Victoria Art Gallery since 2001.

The project’s main aim is to provide Bath & North East Somerset Council with a future-proof Content Management System to carry over it over the next seven years and beyond and can also enhance the delivery of its online presence via:

• The provision of a future-proof platform
• Enabling the Council to leverage its current investment
• Delivering a robust, scalable and flexible website
• Maintaining organic search engine optimisation and also further enhancing it.
• Integrating the sites with existing systems
• Enabling the marketing team to create and manage campaigns that deliver results.
• Ensuring good usability and user experience features
• Conforming to Disability Discrimination Act for web accessibility (W3C level 1-2)

3. About Fusion Workshop

Fusion Workshop analyses, builds, develops, implements and manages business-driven web solutions for their customers. The company focuses on the following sectors: heritage & performing arts, travel & tourism, education, third sector & membership organisations, financial services, legal services and local government.

The company delivers web projects from consultancy through specification and development to completion and ongoing support. It specialises in integration and standards-based Internet projects, and prides itself on a structured (PRINCE2) project management approach with cross-functional teams. Its formal requirements gathering process uses the concepts of stakeholder representation, viewpoints and perspectives to ensure that requirements and quality criteria are captured for analysis.

Fusion Workshop is an experienced Alterian Content Manager Corporate partner. The company works in Microsoft ASP.Net and SQL Server. It also has strong ColdFusion expertise (including migration of these systems to ASP.Net).

See www.fusionworkshop.co.uk

Published on: 9:06AM on 24th March 2009