Found in Translation

The Concept

The project began with a concept: I told the translator who was helping me to redesign the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) web site that in order for this site to be successful, there had to be parity between the Chinese and the English versions of the site. Then I laid down the challenge, “I want Chinese and English readers to be unable to tell whether or not the Chinese or the English is the translation. How can we do that?” The answer was simple; in order to reach that level of comprehension and clarity, the information on the site had to be absolutely clear. That was easier said than done. 

HKMM is classified as somewhere between a small and mid-sized museum. The prevailing attitude amongst staff has always been, do it yourself. The museum doesn’t have a lot of surplus money and thus when it comes to translation work it has mainly been done by in-house staff.  None of the staff have been trained in translation and they have had to learn on the job. I must note, I only have the deepest admiration for this because I would not have the first idea on how to do this alone.

Looking in the Mirror

When preparing the launch of the museum’s new web site, I began talking to language professionals in the field. Surprisingly, all my teachers and advisors told me the same thing. They explained that when they read portions of exhibition text or brochures from the museum and they could tell that it was a translation. “With my knowledge of English,” one explained, “I would just read the English and get a better understanding, than trying to read the Chinese.” What was the missing piece to this equation?

As I began to discuss the prepared English text for translation, I began by taking a hard look at what was being said. And through a thorough inner look I discovered the problem was not the Chinese translation, it was the way the English was written. Time and time again I discovered the text full of metaphors and references that had no counterpart in a Chinese culture. Furthermore, I discovered that the English text was written at a very scholarly level, and not for the general public.

These observations became even clearer when I started working with the translator by unraveling each sentence of the text.


So the museum’s historian wrote, “Real time radar shows an even wider view and a video screen captures the Mondrianesque montage of coloured boxes in Kwai-Tsing.” “What does that mean?” the translator asked. I told her that it meant that the historian was trying to be a bit too clever.

I am not opposed to a nice turn of phrase or elevating a conversation but this approach does not work for an audience that may not have any knowledge of early 20th century Western modern art. By evoking Piet Mondrian’s style of painting as a metaphor, the conversation became hopelessly sidetracked by a obscure reference.

So I said, it means the video screens are in a checkerboard pattern. And there was instant understanding.

The lesson that I learned is that clarity is step one. Every sentence needs to be examined to discover if there is any jargon that is out of place. HKMM has a commitment to provide all information to the public in both Chinese and English. And it was only through this examination that the holes were discovered. Translation made this site better than if it had only been in English alone. And in my opinion, the Chinese is even more clear than the English, even though the English came first.


A very special thank you to Denise Chau who has served as my translator and friend during this web site development project.

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Museums and Make-Overs

Are Museums in Need of a Make Over?

The Known and Unknown

When one names the city of London, one’s mind naturally thinks of great cultural and historic sites. Whether it is the British Museum, Tower of London or Trafalgar Square, it has been argued that these are not sites that belong to London alone, but to the world. Beneath the list of the well-known however, there is the list of the obscure and hidden.

Leighton House Museum

A recent trip to London afforded me the opportunity to visit one of these lesser known sites, the Leighton House Museum. The museum was the home of Frederic Leighton, one of the best known 19th century British artists. And although I like to fancy myself a museum goer and someone who is knowledgeable about art, he was a character that I was not familiar with.

Why I Love House Museums

Walking into the entry hallway of the house, one is hit with sensory overload. There are rich fabrics, elegant tiles, wonderful paintings and a sense that Leighton has just stepped out and that he will be back at any moment. A striking stuffed peacock on the stair’s landing eyes one’s every move as to say, “Yeah – I am watching you.” Historic houses have the ability to capture time and place in a way that even the best galleries cannot.

And even though it was a Saturday, I was the only visitor in the home. This luxury afforded me the opportunity to really explore uninterrupted. But I did find that there was not a single seat for sitting or a single interpretive guide that aided my visit. For the life of me all I wanted to do was to sit next to the bubbling fountain, underneath the beautiful ceiling and contemplate art and the other muses. But I could not because in part I was exhausted from a 12 hour flight and the peacock was really starting to give me the hairy eye ball.

Where I Found Comfort

I left the museum and wandered not too far to a coffee place called Starbucks. They offer a variety of espresso drinks along with an assortment of pastries and other snacks at a reasonable price. In comparison to the museum, this place was packed. Conversations were wild. And though it was crowded, there was plenty of comfortable seating and free wi-fi.

Make-Over Session

As I sat there trying to recharge my batteries I caught an usual scene. Two women sat near me, each taking time to apply make-up to the other. How strange I thought. The scene really made me pause.

What Do Museums Want?

I am not arguing that museums should strive to set up a Clinique counter on site but what I do ponder is, “How can museums create an environment where two women would feel comfortable enough to have a make-over session in public?”  What has Starbucks done to create an atmosphere where one feels so welcome, so free to come in? Customers are using the space as a second home. Sure – their coffee is good but that is only part of the equation. After all if that were the whole answer, then Starbucks would be a walk-up counter.

Consider the two spaces: The museum is filled with great art that inspires. Starbucks is filled with cheap reproductions of contrived imagery. One is a local landmark that is unique to this neighborhood in London. One can be found in every community of the world. One is not being used fully by its community. One is a community centerpiece.

In the book, Great Good Place, the author argues that places can be used by people in ways that have nothing to do with their original purpose, such as coffeehouses that double as a make-over counter.

What is Right for Museums?

Leighton House Garden

Not every activity is right for every museum. Museums have to build relationships in their community that are aligned with their mission and strategic goals. But this does not mean that museums can’t take chances. There are ways that fringe activities and programming may lead to meaning experiences for both the museum and the visitor. Chances are like gateways, until one walks through it, one is still on the outside. Museums can beneifit by just getting people to walk through the gate, that is the first step.

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Going Mobile

Mobile Makes the List

The New Media Consortium has just recently published this year’s Horizon Report for Museums. The report has become an important benchmarking tool for museum professionals to gage which technologies are on the cutting edge and which are to make an impact within the next few years.

I was proud to serve on this year’s Advisory Board for the report, which included museum professionals from all over the world, representing museums from all different sizes.

Not surprisingly, one of the important trends identified by the report was the use of mobile technologies. Mobile platforms have become a mainstay in people’s lives. In my community of Hong Kong, people are more likely to access information from a mobile device than a traditional desktop or laptop. Why? It is a combination of low cost for hardware, service plans and the convenience of on-demand content at one’s fingertips.

Mobile Web or Customized Application?

For museums, one of the most important questions is how to utilize the mobile platform into a viable interpretive tool. There are many issues to consider. Content – is an obvious first consideration. For if a mobile program is built upon poor content, then it doesn’t matter how well executed the mobile technology is.

Another important consideration is whether museums should consider a mobile web version or an application. These two choices have more in common than differences. It is like comparing frozen custard and ice cream. The App definitely has the higher percentage of butter fat. Which is to say the App has a better potential to create a dynamic user experience by using more advanced technology features.

Mobile Web: When viewing content on a mobile device it is sometimes difficult to read long articles because the user is constantly finger swiping back and forth. But some web sites are more user friendly. They utilize a type of sniffing technique where the web content management system (WCMS) is capable of detecting that the user is using a mobile browser and thus returns the content in a templated form that fits the mobile device. These templates ensure that all the content is properly sized and that it all fits within the width of device. These sniffers are not iPhone or Android exclusive and it requires no additional content creation by the museum if one’s museum site is being delivered through a WCMS that supports this function.

Applications: Commonly referred to as Apps, applications are specifically programed to a type of platform software. Common platforms include the iPhone, iPad, Android and the Samsung Tablet. One important consideration to remember is that when developing an App is that an application that is created for one of these systems will not work on the other. Even products from the same company such as Apple will not necessary work. Most iPhone Apps will run on the iPad but not the other way around. At best a developer can use the same content in all devices but all the programming is going to be different.

Applications that Work

Although this is not an exhausted list, I have put together some key points to help museums consider whether or not developing an App is worth it or not. Basic Apps can costs up to $20,000 to develop. And museums may need to develop to two Apps in order to satisfy both the iPhone and Android users. If the  proposed App is not utilizing one of these points than more than likely a mobile web version will suit one’s needs.

  • The Device’s Capabilities

In addition to web browsers and cell phones, many mobile devices have a growing number of other functionalities. These include cameras, geo-location detection, gesture based sensors, and tactile navigation.

Apps that take advantage of these other features have the ability to make a much more dynamic experience for a museum visitor. The one common element that all of these features have is that the user is an active participant in making the content change, interact or be manipulated.

Augmented reality and gesture based Apps are on the cutting edge of what museums are doing today. These features can usually only be achieved by building an application specific to a certain mobile platform.

  • Premium Content

Apps cost money. One can browse the App marketplace and find a wide range of prices. Some are free and some can cost up to fifteen dollars. But in addition to providing a little revenue for the museum, Apps that cost money also create a mechanism to allow users to access premium content of the museum’s collections.

One model approach is to provide basic content with a no cost App. Users can get the look and feel of the program before they choose the cost option. Museums may consider this approach for specially designed tours based on the tradition museum audio guide.

  • Exclusive Experience 

Many museums are moving to the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) approach. This concept is based on the idea that users bring their own mobile, download their own content and are responsible for the maintenance and charging of the device, opposed to the museum. One of the most significant costs associated with mobile tours is the personnel costs associated with renting the devices out.

But museums may want to create an experience for visitors that can only happen on site. This may mean that the museum has an arsenal of mobile devices available to the public. And these devices have been specifically programed to the museum’s site alone.

Apps are also good option for museums that may not have a good Wi-Fi system or if they are located in a broadband blackout area. That is because Apps can have all the content loaded onto the device and they will work regardless of whether or not they are connected to the web. One drawback is that it can make the App quite large in digital bytes.

Pushing Content

Whether a museum chooses to go the mobile web or App route it is important to consider that at a number of basic sections of the web site that should be mobile friendly. This includes the About Us and the Location portions. Visitors to museums that are out and about looking for the next big thing to do on their vacation will appreciate content that is delivered cleanly.

Mobile devices are only getting better. And it is conceivable that will become more and more dynamic making stand alone computers obsolete. Museums regardless of their size should consider how mobile fits into their larger strategy to provide the rich content that their museums hold to the public.

One of the best resources to learn about more Mobile Use and Museums is the Smithsonian’s Mobile Wiki.

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China: Through My Eyes

The moving image has long been an important vehicle for telling stories for museums. Theaters are a common feature among museums of many sizes. And films have also become commonplace as a part of exhibitions. I learned first-hand as a Museum Technician at the United States Holocaust Museum the powerful nature of film. Whether it is a historic clip or a present day oral history given by a Survivor, film has the ability to convey information and create an emotional connection to the story.

One of the most exciting aspects in recent years has been the introduction of easy-to-use film editing programs. Whether one is using iMovie or Final Cut, one no longer has to be a Hollywood producer to create compelling dramas. Also with the introduction of video sites like YouTube and Vimeo, museums have the ability to push their broadcasts to a larger number of people. And cost is no longer a threshold that museums can’t reach. This is a concept that would have been hard to imagine even 10 years ago.

One observation that I have made about these self-generated films is that the quality of the footage is not pristine. And that doesn’t matter. Once again we learn that the power of film is in the compelling nature of what is seen and not how directed the content is. If millions of people tune in to watch a sneezing panda, then it must be something to this approach.

I recently had the opportunity to work on a project called “China: Through My Eyes.” It is a series about two young girls from Massachusetts that travel to China and share their adventures from their point of view.

Now I am no Francis Ford Coppola. But for the purposes of this project, that doesn’t matter. My shaky-hand technique doesn’t get in the way of the interesting observations that these two young girls make.

Museums should be thinking about how to incorporate film into their storytelling arsenal. The key is not to be turned off by the challenge. Take a chance. Not every film is going to be great, but with a little forward planning it is possible to create a regular series of online programming that can serve as a compelling way to engage with audiences and have them return time and again to your web site to learn about all the sticky stuff that you are working on.

Remember if if your web site doesn’t support video clips, it is possible to create your own channel on a number of free sites that will host your content. Where is your audience? They are on the web and that’s where you should be too!

Girl Power – Episode 2 of China: Through My Eyes from Through My Eyes on Vimeo.

In the second episode, a good night’s sleep finds Ava and Sofie bright-eyed and ready for a visit with the Hong Kong Girl Guides, a faraway equivalent of their own familiar Daisy and Brownie troops back home. With some gifts and patches to share, their troop vests proudly worn and eager to meet Chinese girls their own age, Sofie and Ava take part in an Easter basket making project with a troop leader named Circle, watch older Guides molding chocolate Easter treats, meet a younger Happy Bee Guide, and address a roomful of Girl Guides, receiving rock star treatment and making many new friends.

Through My Eyes is a production of Thunderball Entertainment Group, the Cape Cod Community Media Center and WGBH Boston. Learn more at​kids.

Boston’s WGBH is PBS’s single largest producer of beb and TV content (prime-time and children’s programs), including Nova, Masterpiece, Frontline, Antiques Roadshow, Curious George, Arthur, and The Victory Garden. Learn more about China: Through My Eyes on their Facebook page at​tmeyes.



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Feature Article

Issue Number 261 - Fragrant Harbour

Fragrant Harbour, a regionally based magazine that specializes in sailing and marine issues has lighted the work of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. The article focuses on the museum’s collection of glass plate negatives that were donated by Hong Kong United Dockyards.

Images of the glass plated negatives can be viewed on the museum’s Flickr page.

Details of the procedures behind the project can be viewed on this link.

Please contact me if you wish to have a copy of the article.


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A Negative to a Positive


A Negative to a Positive: Using flickr to Manage Photographic Collections Online

Many small museums have vast repositories of photos. The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) was looking for a low cost and easy access technology solution to make its collection more accessible and visible to the public. By using flickr, the most popular photo-sharing site, the museum solved two challenges that many small museums face – a way to share photographs with visitors and a way to organize and catalogue them.

The Glass Plate Negative Project


This project began with a set of more than 200 glass plate negatives that were donated to the HKMM from the Hongkong and Whampoa Dock Company (HWD). These plates date from the turn of the 20th century to the 1960’s. HWD was the one of the largest dockyards in Asia and an important ship builder throughout the 20th century. The images on the plates capture the people, places and events that defined this important era and help to show how Hong Kong, and its port, developed into the world city that it is today.

In 2010, the museum photographed each glass plate on a light board using a standard point and shoot digital camera. The images were all stored on the museum’s server and shared using email or by burning them to a disk.  While this system was perfectly workable, file sharing was difficult and much of the collection was not readily available to the general public. Flickr proved to be an ideal solution because it is easy to use, inexpensive, and allows for advanced categorization and cataloguing.


Benefits and lessons learned

Here are some of the highlights and lessons learned that I hope other small museums can use to manage their collections.

Organizing Collections and Sets – flickr provides a three-tiered system of organizing its photos. Collections are the most comprehensive category for the photos.  HKMM identified major categories such as “ships by type,” “collections by material type” and “collections by gallery.” Sets are narrower and are intended to represent only a portion of the larger collection. The museum created sets such as “models,” “photographs” and “passenger ships.” These sets fit under the larger collections tent. Lastly photos are organized at the individual level with tags. Tags can describe a number of individual characteristics.  An item can have virtually unlimited number of tags.

What makes this system dynamic for the museum is that a digital object can exist in multiple sets and collections at the same time. The digital world defies the physical world principle of one object in one place at one time. And the digital object does not have to be copied multiple times in order for this to happen.

(Figure 1)

(Figure 1) A visitor in the Photography set may discover a glass plate negative of a ferryboat. But they may also find it if they were searching in the Carrying People set. By providing multiple access points for the visitor to explore the museum’s collection it allows the visitor to access this interactive reference in a manner that appeals to their learning style and manner of exploration.

Exif – Flickr allows the Exchangeable Image File Format to be modified. This means that museum can change the default time stamp that is placed on many digital images to be set to the historic date that the original was taken. Flickr also allows photographs to have the “Circa” or “Taken Sometime in X Year” to be placed on the file in cases where the exact date is unknown. The photos can also be geo-tagged.

These features allow for a more complex archive of images. It allows unrelated collections to be brought together by having the commonality of a similar creation date or location tag. Many locals may be familiar with the devastating typhoon of September 1906. By changing the exif metadata on the historic photographs to that time period it allows all of those images to live digitally together. And it allows visitors to see photographs taken at the same location throughout the years. This is especially dramatic for Hong Kong because massive land reclamation projects around the port have dramatically changed the landscape.

Hyperlinks to the Positive – Although viewing the digital image of the glass plates is interesting, what is really spectacular is being able to view the positive image as well. Flickr allows all descriptions of the items to written in HTML so a viewer can find an image that strikes their curiosity and with one click go back and forth to the positive image. Because the negative image doesn’t reveal a great deal of the individual detail of the photograph the hyperlink connecting the two provides the further exploration that museums often seek to encourage.

Cost – A Pro Account that allows for unlimited downloading of photographs and short videos is $24 for one year. Since the museum does not currently have an online photographic collection connected to its home domain, this represents a cheap solution to bringing the photos to light. But like the free dog, it is important to remember that the real cost of the flickr solution is to have dedicated staff available for the daily feeding and walking of your digital pooch.

I encourage everyone to explore some of the images that have been made public on the museum’s flickr page.

Robert Trio is the Project Officer for Technology at the Hong Kong Maritime Museum. Please feel free to contact him with questions and comments.



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Expression of Interest

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum is placing out to tender an Expression of Interest for the development and design of their website. Please see the following:

Hong Kong Maritime Museum Contact Person:

Robert Trio

Project Officer for Technology

Murray House Ground Floor

Stanley, Hong Kong

+852 9448 8893

Deadline for Submission:

Close of Business – Friday, August 5, 2011

Proposals may be submitted via email to Robert Trio or delivered to the address above.

Hong Kong Maritime Museum Background

The Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM) is a privately run museum located within the community of Stanley on Hong Kong Island. Its mission is to inspire people to know more about Hong Kong’s rich maritime history and traditions. The museum sees the redevelopment of its web site as an essential part of its mission to reach people and serve as a repository for its dynamic stories and its invaluable resources.

In 2012 the museum will be relocating to Central Pier 8. This move represents a new chapter in the institution’s development as a world-class museum. The museum’s web site must serve as visual reference point to reinforce the museum’s standing in the community and the world.

Section A: Conditions of Work

•          Submission of a proposal indicates acceptance by the person submitting the proposal of the terms, conditions and specifications contained in this EOI.

•          HKMM reserves the right to accept or reject any and all proposals and to waive any technicalities or irregularities therein.

•          During the evaluation process, HKMM reserves the right to request additional information or clarifications from those submitting proposals, and to allow corrections of errors or omissions.

•          HKMM reserves the right to retain all proposals submitted and to use any ideas in any proposals submitted, regardless of whether or not that proposal is accepted.

•          There is no expressed or implied obligation for HKMM to reimburse responding companies or individuals for any expenses incurred in preparing proposals in response to this EOI.

•          The contents of each proposal submitted will remain confidential and not be made available to anyone except the HKMM employees involved in the evaluation, approval process and implementation of the redesigned web site.  The contents of the proposal submitted by the vendor and any clarifications thereto shall become part of the contractual obligation and incorporated by reference into the ensuing agreement.

•          All proposals become the property of HKMM and will not be returned to the vendor.

•          Vendors will not use the name of HKMM, nor reference any endorsement from HKMM in any advertisement or otherwise for any purpose without the express prior written consent of HKMM.

•          HKMM will retain the authority to restrict access to all or parts of the data. Vendors do not have any ownership over the data at any time. Privacy policies set by HKMM will be enforced.

Section B: Selection Process and Proposal Requirements

HKMM will use the following five-step process in order to determine a vendor:

1. Submission of Proposals (Sections a-e)

Submitted proposals must address the items listed below. Any proposal that does not address all of the items will be rejected. Vendors must identify a single point-of-contact within their firm and include that person’s phone number, fax number and e-mail address on the cover of the proposal.

a. Portfolio

Vendors should submit a sample portfolio that is representative of their highest quality work. Vendors should be sure to include work completed for clients in the arts or cultural industries if available. Portfolio samples submitted, as part of the proposal will not be returned.

b. Vendor Questionnaire

The answers to the specific questions listed in Vendor Questionnaire (Section E) must be included in your proposal.

c. References

References must be completed and returned as part of your proposal. Each vendor submitting a response must include a minimum of three (3) references. These references must be organizations for which the vendor has developed a web site. HKMM is particularly interested in references in the arts or cultural professional services industries. Each reference must include the name of the organization and the name, title and telephone number of a contact person within the organization.

d. Telephone/E-mail Support

Proposals must also include information about support services that will be provided by the vendor if selected. Proposals must specify the type, duration and response commitments of support to be provided.

e. Fees and Schedule

This project will be let on a fixed-price basis. Please include information on both the fee and work schedule you propose that will address the requirements listed in Section D: Preliminary Scope of Work. Please provide several cost proposals to accomplish the scope outlined below. The budget must encompass all design, production, and software acquisitions necessary for development and maintenance of the web site. The museum would like to launch the new web site by October 2011.

2. Selection of Finalists

Based on information contained in submitted and accepted proposals, HKMM will select two to three finalists.

3.  Presentations by Finalists

Finalists may be asked to provide more in-depth information. It is not expected that the Vendor will make a formal presentation to HKMM senior staff. But HKMM reserves the right to make this request if necessary.

4.  Notifications

Based on a combined evaluation of the proposal and subsequent inquiries, HKMM will select a vendor for this project.

5.  Execution of Agreement

HKMM will work with the selected vendor to finalize the statement of work, fee and to execute all agreements.

Section C: Technology Background of HKMM

HKMM views the implementation of this web site as the centerpiece for the museum’s content delivery system to the public. It is also to serve as the portal bringing together a number of systems platforms that the museum already maintains. HKMM acknowledges that it may not be able to implement all aspects of its redesign at once; the important point to consider is that the redevelopment must be able to accommodate new modules and modifications in the future. The redevelopment should support best practice in web design and infrastructure and utilize open source platforms when available.

The museum expects that the new web site will be designed so HKMM staff of all levels will be able to access and modify information with ease. The redesign should be done with the idea that as a museum, visual references are the strongest means to convey information. The website should be designed to accommodate text, photos, video and audio. The content will be a part of a Web Content Management System, while other information will be accessed through embedded links or Application Program Interfaces (API).

Current HKMM Systems:

PastPerfect – This software is a standard in the museum for holding the intellectual knowledge of its collections. This database holds text and photo files. The software has a number of modules that allow for online exhibitions and collections. These features are not currently being utilized but the museum may wish to implement some of these features in the future.

POS – This software is used to operate the museum’s point of sale features in the museum’s gift shop. This system is not connected to an inventory or the museum’s accounting system. The museum may be willing to move to a web based system in combination with online web sales.

Flickr – The museum maintains a flickr account with a number of photos for public view. The site is currently being used as a way to share photos of the museum’s collections with an outside design firm. Flickr’s API provides an opportunity to combine current photos into the museum’s redesign project.

YouTube – The museum does not currently have a YouTube account but sees it as a viable solution as a video hosting site. The museum has concerns that embedded YouTube may not be available to constituents in Mainland China, a growing audience base for the museum.

Library Collection – The museum wishes to provide an online catalog to its non-lending library. The museum has identified Dublin Core as a standard for organizing this information. It is also interested in joining data systems in open source platforms such as OMEKA, which support both Dublin Core and PastPerfect.

Section D: Preliminary Scope of Work

The proposal is to be based on the following preliminary scope of work. It is the intention of HKMM to finalize the scope of work, fee and schedule with the winning vendor.

Project Objectives:

Project Objectives are divided into four categories: Mission, Infrastructure, Design and Accessibility. Vendors are requested to address these key points as they answer questions located in the questionnaire.


HKMM wants to redesign our web site in order to support the strategic communications and educational goals of our institution. These include:

•          Provide up to date bi-lingual information for visitors (Calendar, Events, Hours, Directions)

•          Provide Museum Resources (Text based information and also dynamic multi-media content such as film, audio and animation.)

•          Provide a mechanism to send content directly to constituents in the form of an eNewsletter, RSS feed and email updates.

•          Provide an eCommerce site where visitors may purchase goods from the bookstore, tickets and make donations.


We feel that these project objectives can be met in the following ways:

•          Structuring the web site within a WCMS

•          Providing multiple templates to insert multi-media content

•          Providing database capabilities to store information on members and friends of the museum

•          Integration of the web site into already existing platforms that the museum controls

•          Having the capacity to grow with the museum by providing more operations modules in the future

Web-based User Interface:

The HKMM site should make it easy and convenient for visitors to navigate, locate, evaluate and select information on the site. Vendors are encouraged to identify new and innovative approaches to organizing present and future content, services and information for the site. The user interface must be widely accessible.

Process Improvement:

An important role the Vendors will play is in helping HKMM understand how processes and services can be improved and streamlined. Therefore an analytics component of the web site that will allow the museum to glean meaningful information about the site’s web traffic will be required.

Integration with Back-end Systems:

Integration with back-end systems and existing databases and information systems is critical to the Web site. Proposals must indicate how the vendor would approach the task of implementing the new Web site on top of existing back-end databases and information systems. (See question 12 in Section E: Vendor Questionnaire)

Transition Plan:

Vendors who submit proposals must provide a transition plan. This plan must describe what tasks and activities, with identified timelines, must be performed in order to transfer the new Web site to HKMM. For these purposes, transition is defined as the process of moving files and software provided by the vendor to HKMM with minimal disruption of services to users. Transition would occur at the termination of the contract. HKMM web site must remain operational during any transition period.


We recognize that a redesign of the visual of the web site is necessary. The entire web site will present a more contemporary, sophisticated and powerful image. We desire a site that has a Hong Kong look, one that is clean and uncluttered. We have identified the Peabody Essex Museum ( as one example of the type of look we are trying to achieve.

•          Use visual techniques to reinforce museum’s established brand (logo, colour and typeface.)

•          Update look and feel

•          Improve User Interface Design

•          Use colour, graphics and text that improve the user experience


Vendors must make the online system accessible via popular browsers such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. The museum is also interested in mobile platforms. The web site must also be as accommodating as possible to disabled and visually impaired visitors.

Section E: Vendor Questionnaire

The following pages contain questions and statements that should be addressed in the proposal submitted by the vendor.

1.         How long has your company been in the business of developing Web sites and pages?

2.         How long has your company been in business?

3.         What percent of your current business is devoted to Web site development?

4.         How many employees does your company employ? How many of these employees develop Web sites and pages? Of those employees, how many are graphic designers, how many are programmers and how many are copyeditors or writers?

5.         For the employees included in your answer to question 4, how many years of Web site design, programming or copyediting experience does each have?

6.         Of these employees listed in question 5, how many are full-time, how many are part-time or freelance?

7.         If HKMM selects your company to develop the Web site, what percent of the development work will be done by your internal staff and what percent through contractor programmers and designers?

8.         List the types of software programs your employees and contractors use for Web site and graphical development?

9.         What is your company’s experience creating Web sites with both Cantonese and English sites?

10.       Explain the process your company will use to provide preliminary designs and to arrive at a final design?

11.       There are many sites on the Internet and some are much better than others. What makes one site better than another? What are the characteristics of an outstanding Web site?  What do you think are the three top design issues that HKMM should consider when redesigning its site?

12.       Please describe the scale and scope of your previous experience integrating Web site designs with servers making use of SQL Server 2000 technologies.  Do you, taking into account your prior experience, anticipate any difficulties in achieving a successful outcome for this project?

Section F: References

Please provide the contact details for at least 3 references.


•          Provide Point of Contact

•          Submit Portfolio of Work

•          Answer Questionnaire Based on Scope of Work and HKMM Background

•          Submit a Timetable and Fee Structure of Work

•          Provide Information about Companies Support Services

•          Submit Three References

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Open For Business

I have just recently moved to Hong Kong and I am looking forward to the exciting challenges that this wonderful city has to offer.

Although I have only been here in Hong Kong for a short time I have already had the opportunity to visit and see some of the city’s most exciting museums. I have been so impressed with the way that they capture the spirit and vitality of the people of the community. Whether it is a large government museum or small private institution the exhibitions have been done in a professional and impressive manner.

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