The Future is Here: Why Your Museum CMS Must be Mobile

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

October 07, 2020

Are you reading this on your mobile device? If you are, you’re in good company. According to the 2019 Pew Research Mobile Data Fact Sheet: 81% of Americans own a smartphone, 54% own a tablet, and 17% of them are “smartphone only” internet users—meaning their smartphone is the only way they access the internet. 

The data further reveals that reliance on smartphones for online access is especially common among younger adults, non-whites, and lower-income Americans. 

For more information on younger (millennial) visitors and what they want from a museum experience please see my previous posts on Lucidea’s Think Clearly Blog: The Numbers on the Millennial Museum Visitor and What Does the Millennial museum Visitor Want?.

What a Mobile Site Does

Many museum Collections Management System (CMS) platforms now come with mobile version of the site. A good mobile site will have the following mechanics:

  • It knows what type of device it’s being displayed on and delivers an adjusted content display for tablets and smartphones.
  • Font size is increased so that zooming in is unnecessary and the text is easy to read.
  • Visuals are adjusted and sometimes removed to allow for better page display.
  • The page is easy to navigate. The navigation menu is intuitively available no matter where you are on the page by hovering, scrolling up, or another gesture.

There are Three Ways to Deliver a “Mobile” Museum CMS

There are three different ways to serve up a mobile version of the museum CMS: mobile-friendly, mobile-responsive, and a separate mobile site.

Mobile-Friendly: A mobile-friendly site means that the site will display on a mobile device, but little to no adjustments are made to resize or reformat the content to display nicely on the device. Users will typically need to zoom in to read the text, pan through too-large images, and use a cumbersome navigation menu.

Mobile-Responsive: A mobile-responsive site is when the site detects what type of device is being used and serves up a tablet or smartphone-specific version of the site with adjusted content size and display. Mobile-responsive provides a better user experience and makes it easier to engage with content on the site.

Separate Mobile Site: A separate mobile site has all the same user-friendly functionality as a mobile-responsive site, but instead of reformatting the site on the fly the site is built specifically for mobile devices. When a user accesses the CMS portal the site can detect if it’s a mobile device and serve it the mobile site.

Mobile-Only Use is Increasing

Remember the statistic that 17% of Americans rely on “smartphones only” to access the internet? According to the World Advertising Research Center this will increase to 72.6 % by 2025. Mobile use is on the rise as is mobile-only (non-PC) internet use. Knowing this makes it all the more critical for museums to have a mobile CMS platform experience.


A mobile museum CMS contributes to visitor education, enrichment, and enjoyment. On the internal side it supports museum staff perform work in the stacks, in the field, or at home. Given the many activities that can be supported by a mobile museum CMS, there’s a business case to be made for prioritizing a flawless mobile museum CMS experience for both internal and external users. In the next two posts we’ll cover the external and internal use cases and benefits for a mobile museum CMS.

For more on how to maximize the value of your CMS, please get your free e-copy of my book: How to Select, Buy, and Use a Museum CMS, courtesy of Lucidea.

Rachael Cristine Woody

Rachael Cristine Woody

Expert Rachael Cristine Woody advises on museum strategies, collections management, and grant writing for a wide variety of clients. Register here for the next webinar in Rachael’s series on Collections Management System Essentials for Impact on 10/28/20, where she’ll expand on topics related to a mobile-enabled CMS. And learn about Lucidea’s Argus solution for museum collections management.


Similar Posts

Leave a Comment

Comments are reviewed and must adhere to our comments policy.


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This