Responses by Bob Schuster, creative director, Hello And.
Background: The purpose of this website is to provide the many audiences—families, enthusiasts, philanthropists and members—of the National Museum of Transportation with access to information about visiting, a full library of museum collection information, and the ability to support the museum through financial and other contributions. All the while, the site conveys the exciting, fun experience of visiting the museum itself.
The site is part of an initiative to support the museum’s The Power to Move You capital campaign and elevates the museum from a perspective of design and legitimacy, following its rebrand from the Museum of Transportation to the National Museum of Transportation.
Design core: When building the style guide, the primary focus was to create something that would enable the museum’s internal and contracted designers to maintain a consistent feeling across brand and marketing materials. For this reason, we paired typography and color with structured layouts to create a brand platform to build upon. The ultracondensed typeface—Dharma Gothic, from typographer Ryoichi Tsunekawa at Dharma Type—is used for primary large headlines, creating a bold and industrial style just through the use of type. All these design elements rely on large photo and video content that keeps the museum’s collection as the site’s primary focus.
Accessibility was also a factor in planning the design of the site. Ensuring that all site visitors have the same opportunity to get the same information and visit the museum was very important. Color, fonts and layout were all scrutinized to ensure that reaching as many audiences as possible was accounted for.
Favorite details: There was a lot of work done in content planning and hierarchy throughout this project to make sure that the varied site audiences were paid attention to. The mobile experience of the museum’s new site is an understatedly vast improvement over its previous website; the new site provides a fun, visual experience and also calls immediate attention to important details, such as museum hours and visit-planning information.
Because the museum has a collection of rare transportation artifacts, ranging from small to gigantic, we worked with the very talented director of photography Brant Hadfield and his team to produce video backgrounds that would convey the motion and scale of the museum’s inventory. Finally, elevating the museum’s brand and online experience is a general point of pride, hoping that the website both acts as a source of inspiration as well as encourages all audiences to visit and support the private nonprofit.
Navigation structure: The site’s navigation needed to be simple to access, but contain a large amount of information, features and pages. For this reason, we opted for a nontraditional navigation system with a few primary elements featured on the homepage header and all others behind a large megamenu, where elements are divided by importance with different type sizes, color and hierarchy.
Technology: This site was built on WordPress with custom theme development, PHP, HTML and SASS. The e-commerce portion is built using WooCommerce and WooCommerce bookings.
Anything else? There is a fun little 404 page at tnmot.org/404 that pops in a little brand personality where users otherwise might have a frustrating experience. This site launch included a new primary URL for the institution, and while redirects were taken into account, there would inevitably be some pages out there on the web that would lead nowhere for a brief time.