Over the past few months, Wide Open Tech has been working very hard on a robust website overhaul for the North Carolina Museum of Art, in Raleigh, NC. Now that the new website is launched, we wanted to hear how the process panned out, from the Client’s Perspective. Emily Kowalski, Communications Specialist with NCMA, shared her experiences and lessons learned with Sarah Gilliam with Wide Open Tech. Here’s what she had to say…
SG: What triggered this redesign project?
EK: Our main goal was to develop and design a website with improved navigation and usability, beautiful imagery, a prominent and engaging blog, and other user-friendly features. We also wanted the new site to be responsive, so visitors on mobile devices would have a great experience. We felt our website could use a bit of a facelift, in terms of both visitor usability and aesthetic, and wanted to incorporate more interactive features for our visitors.
SG: How does the new site support the mission of NCMA?
EK: Part of our mission is to serve visitors and the people of North Carolina and beyond by creating inspiring encounters with art, and this needs to occur both on campus and online. With the new website, visitors are now able to explore our collection; easily discover upcoming events, programs, and exhibitions; and learn more about the museum and art world news on our blog.
SG: What branding strategies did you all incorporate into this project?
EK: The Museum is an inspiring, dynamic, inclusive place, with a clean, modern aesthetic. The new website perfectly expresses these brand qualities.
SG: What has the feedback been like?
EK: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Quite simply, visitors love that information is easier to find on the new site. They also love that the site looks just as good on their tablet or mobile phone as it does on their laptop or desktop.
We’ve also gotten positive feedback on the enhanced visuals—from the interactive map on our Museum Park page, to enticing images of food from our restaurant Iris, to works of art in our online
collection. Users also enjoy the blog, which is more prominent than before and updated on a weekly basis with exciting behind-the-scenes content, slideshows, interviews, and art history tidbits.
SG: Have you seen an increase in web traffic?
EK: Yes, especially to our blog.
SG: How was it working with the design and development team?
EK: The developers and designers were tireless and devoted countless hours to this project. We were impressed with their vision, creativity, and work ethic.
SG: What were your biggest takeaways from this process? Lessons learned – technical or not?
EK: We have a very complex website: we sell tickets to exhibitions, concerts, and films; offer free registration for events; have one-time and recurring events; maintain a searchable database of works of art; maintain a blog; and offer downloadable resources, online courses, video, etc. Planning for and accommodating all of these elements was a complicated process and we should have allowed more time for the redesign.
SG: What components or features of the new NCMA website are you the most proud of?
EK: We are most proud of the simple navigation, beautiful imagery, and responsiveness of the new site.