We used Omeka.net to help partners at another University publish a database of Catholic letters (not published yet, so it’s not ready to share) and I think everyone was quite taken by the ease of using the hosted version of Omeka. Unlike the locally installed version of Omeka, Omeka.net is a freemium web service that requires little to no coding skills and no server to get started.
Essentially, Omeka.net works like a hosted blog platform such as Blogger or WordPress.com. You have limited options in terms of look and feel, but the underlying collection building tools are there.
What I like about Omeka.net:
- Free or very cheap. You can put together a free collection if your needs are small. If, as was our situation, you have to import your metadata via spreadsheet or have some other plugins you need (some you have to pay for an account to use), then you’ll have to pay a subscription fee. But the fees are likely quite affordable for your organization.
- Easy peasy. Very little if any understanding of web technologies is required. In our situation, we had some problems that required some technical thinking mostly in terms of cleaning up our spreadsheet , converting it to UTF-8 and making it work with Omeka, but this kind of expertise should be easy to find in your institution. Once the platform is set up, non-technical staff can pretty much run it and add to it without issue.
- It’s pretty good and just getting started. In the past few months, new themes and plugins have started to come online and I expect that this platform will be very robust in just another year or two.
- Your collection will become part of the Omeka.net network of collections, which should help with Search Engine Optimization as well as serendipitous discovery.
- It feels pretty rock-solid and reliable.
What I don’t like about it:
- It’s still early days and some features from the full Omeka version are not yet available.
- Very limited theming, meaning you have only 8 different themes and none of these let you control color. However, you can add banner images and footers to brand it.
- The help documentation is fairly helpful for most situations, but if you run into some advanced issues, you’ll have to hope someone on the Omeka forums can help.