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Don't make it painful to find you

After agreeing to take on a writing assignment regarding Oregon history, I happily settled down to do a little preliminary online research. Because some of the towns I needed to research were located in areas I was not completely familiar with, I was relying on their local websites to point me to what I needed to know.

Fat chance. One thing became obvious to me — nobody was thinking like a visitor when they set up their website. The thing that amazed me most is that so many history museums forget to post the TOWN they are in. The people offering the information forget the vast majority of website visitors may not already know that information.

Take the Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History. Because it is affiliated with the University of Oregon, which is in Eugene, I figured it was probably in Eugene. However, we all know what they say about people who ASSUME - Makes an ASS out of U and ME. And certainly before I submit my article to a national publication, I need to confirm my guesses. The directions on how to GET there on their website assume you already know what town you are in and are familiar with the street names. What part of "I'm from out-of-town" did these learned professors forget? A person shouldn't have to dig for the gold of knowing what town your museum is in, or better yet, the orientation within the larger geographic region and proximity to roads. And yes, I eventually found my confirmation that the museum is, indeed, in Eugene... a factoid I wouldn't have been able to guess had I been a resident of another state or country.

The other thing that left me somewhat flabbergasted is how many websites claim, "This town is rich in local history." But that's it. They don't actually REVEAL any of that rich history. Just taunt you with the teaser that it exists, like saying "You gotta work for your history, sucker — we ain't givin' it to you!"

People from outside the area love to come visit Oregon for the history, as well as the scenic beauty. If we are to lure them into our communities with the rich history we have, we need to be a little more upfront on what that history is and where to find it.