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Responses by Eena Taylor, digital director, Hiebing

Background: The purpose of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA) website is to encourage exploration of the museum’s exhibitions, events and its permanent collection. The redesign was part of a larger effort to extend MMoCA’s refreshed logo, visual identity and part of a grant that funded publishing MMoCA’s permanent collection online (still in progress).

Highlights: The angles play a prominent role in bringing the branding in with the “A icon” and the design of the building. The first content boxes are a nod to the artist plaques from the museum displays.

Challenges: The online collection is being built on a separate platform and lives on a subdomain, so one big challenge was figuring out how to integrate the online collection and weave it into the site in such a way that it feels like a natural part of the user journey, and to make the transitions between platforms seamless.

Favorite details: The building illustrations in the background of the homepage bring in an interesting technical feel and subtlety shows where the animated A icon came from in the museum logo. The MMoCA Collects image carousel in one of a kind. Not only does this fully mobile responsive element work hard to highlight MMoCA’s collections, but also the animations and transitions provide extra vibrancy and punch to the site.

Navigational structure: Our research found that users fall into two groups in terms of what they’re primarily interested in: immersing themselves in the art (online collection) or learning about events like openings and talks. So, the navigation was structured to highlight both of those paths. We have an animated logo to draw attention to the navigation and an angle that plays off the A (or the icon) as well as the design of the building.

Time constraints: Limited resources meant that some site features, like the permanent collection, needed to be tackled in subsequent phases.

Technical features: We used PHP, SCSS and Javascript. We also used Webpack to compile and optimize our Javascript and CSS code. We built a custom WordPress theme from the ground up with the help of ACF (advanced custom fields) and a variety of custom post types to help keep the back-end clean and easy to manage.

Anything new: We tested using XD and Sketch for designing various concepts and XD came out as a much more intuitive design tool and more integrated into our workflow.

Alternative approach: In addition to designing a few more fun surprises into the look and feel of the site, we would have like to have dedicated more real estate to MMoCA’s signature events, like Art Fair on the Square.

mmoca.org

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