The museum’s website was a delight. It was clear, easy to navigate, with sections for different types of visitors – researchers, families, schools, general visitors, restaurant goers, etc. So we were excited. The purple bus ride in made it extra special for the kids who love anything purple.
Upon arrival, we went through the spinning doors and were greeted by lovely security guard with a thick accent, but she clearly loved children. At the reception desk we found a “Sam the Snail” treasure hunt, which we grabbed and were off – we had to find room 48. Up a few floors and then through a maze of rooms.
It was then I started noticing it. In every room, security and museum staff would pop up looking at us; none had friendly faces. Eventually, we found room 48 and “Sam the Snail”. We then realised the ‘treasure hunt’ was only to one room; we were finished. We made our way back down to reception and when we asked about the various family activities mentioned on the website, we were first told to talk to someone else by a woman who was too busy grooming herself to engage. The second person told us we were wrong and that there was nothing on for families today.
As we were about to leave, a cleaner came up to us, saying ‘come come, I show you where children are’ in her thick accent. And she took us into a tucked away room with a tiny sign.
She made our day. She and her colleague who greeted us at the door were consistent with the message on the website; the rest of the staff communicated a message to us too – children are not welcome.
Going digital at its simplest isn’t about showing off multiple personalities, it can allow us to show different aspects of our organisations and target different groups better. However, there needs to be a consistent story throughout AND this story must be present in our human interactions ‘offline’. The two women with thick accent clearly loved children and made us feel welcome, which is what we expected after visiting the website. The rest of the staff did not.
Going digital is so much more than technology; if we view it only as some fancy kit and cool apps, then we might as well stay offline.