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Matthew McGregor, BSc (Hons) Computer Science with Web Development

21st June 2022

Computer and Information Sciences student Matthew McGregor explores the benefits of an interactive, custom-built website on the visibility of the National Trust’s Seaton Delaval Hall for his final project.

‘Designing and Building an Interactive Virtual Guided Tour Website for Seaton Delaval Hall’ incorporates innovative technologies and inclusive website design to benefit a beloved cultural institution nestled in the heart of a diverse North East community.

A deep-rooted interest in National Trust properties has always been at the forefront of Matthew’s hobbies. Immersing himself in the historical importance and striking architecture of such venues from an early age, a project aiming to benefit Seaton Delaval Hall had always been Matthew’s goal since beginning his project.

Matthew said: “I have always had a love for National Trust properties. Having spoken with a staff member at Northumbria University about my interest, it was suggested to me that Seaton Delaval Hall would be an interesting topic for my final year project, given the close link between the two.

“Given the impact of Covid on the culture sector and how many venues are yet to embrace modern marketing practices such as a website, my project was to explore the need for a historical museum to own an online presence.”

Having spoken with a team member from Seaton Delaval Hall and visited on numerous occasions throughout the making of his project, Matthew was taken aback by the venue’s impressive Baroque architecture and wanted to interweave elements of this into his final design.

“I particularly like the architecture, historical significance, and general ambience of the venue,” explained Matthew. “During my visits and research, I learned that there was a devastating fire and although you can see remnants of the damage, I like that this has been left as it leads to a new, imaginative way of thinking.”

It was vital for Matthew that he not only created a bespoke design that featured contemporary technologies, vibrant animations, and modern audio elements, but he also felt a duty to produce a site that represented the modern world.

Interactive Virtual Guided Tour Website for Seaton Delaval HallHe said: “The original idea was to create an immersive platform where visitors could access and engage with the site using a 360° VR headset. However, I quickly realised that not only could financial resources be an issue, but the element of inclusivity would also mean that a substantial proportion of users would struggle to engage with my design.

“From that moment, accessibility became vital to every element I added to the website, which meant my creative elements such as the background audio, speech and on-screen animations had to showcase that thinking too.”

“Similar to how sustainability should be at the forefront of clothing for fashion brands, inclusive website designs should be standard practice nowadays, especially with the resources available to designers and agencies across the world.”

A creative designer who has an inherent passion for technology, one of Matthew’s greatest strengths lies in his conscientious approach to computer science. He can think laterally by carefully considering the emotions of website users when tasked with creating bespoke work.

Find out more about studying Computer and Information Sciences at Northumbria.

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