A apologize for the overly academic tone.
I would like to address the re-design of the Historic Naval Ships Association (HNSA) website (www.hnsa.org) for my final project proposal. The current HNSA website is basic in its design, providing the public with minimal information about the organization of the naval and maritime memorials and cultural institutions it represents and therefore is vastly under-utilized by the public.
At the 2006 annual HNSA conference, several members of the organization questioned why the HNSA existed. Members of HNSA are scattered throughout the world, a majority though, are in the continental United States. Members include historic naval ships (ships that are now museums or memorials), naval museums, or maritime museums and naval organizations. Most are currently facing decreased visitation, dwindling staff and increased competition with other cultural entities in their areas. The World War II generation has been the “bread and butter” of the ships and museums. As this generation gets older and travels less, the ships and museums aren’t making as much money as they have in the past. Several of the members are addressing this problem by enticing new audiences to visit their institutions. Most of the organization seems “lost” though. Directors realize there is a problem, but don’t know how to address it or what the way forward is. The average age of 80% of the active organization is 65-70, and to many of the ship/museum directors, a computer has never been an overly integral part of their day-to-day operations, and its certainly never been needed to help bring visitors to their institutions. Many don’t understand that a revitalized website, logo and brand is a first step in making the organization relevant to a new generation of visitors.
There are several successful websites currently run by individual HNSA members. Elements of these sites will be examined as the HNSA site is redesigned. Non-naval oriented history sites will also be consulted in the research process, along with popular cultural and educational sites.
By employing interactive maps, organized sound and document archives and educational resources, the HNSA website can become more then the then a mere listing of cultural institutions (the current website does include links to all of its members individual websites.) The redesigned website would become a repository for oral histories and photographs, requiring the creation of a user-friendly database to organize donated material into a user-friendly format. The new website would show the next generation of museum visitors why HNSA is important and relevant to their lives and that the museums and ships which make up the organization are places to visit and learn from.