What Makes A Great Museum Website?
George A. Magalios
What makes a great museum website?
It’s More Difficult Than You Think!
Edginess, Elegance & Efficacy: The Three “E’s”
The answer to this question depends on the type of museum and what one considers to be a “great website”. Let’s first discuss the culture of museums. They are generally speaking, non-profit institutions whose mission combines education, cultural fulfillment, and community outreach, depending on the specifics on the type of museum and the type of mission. In short, creating a powerful and effective museum website requires the right blend of edginess, elegance and efficacy.
The Task of a Museum’s Website
In general, art museums are tasked with informing the public about their collections, special exhibitions, and events. Getting people in the door is arguably the most important element of being a cultural institution. One cannot educate, inform and enlighten solely through digital media. Therefore a great museum website has to seduce, inspire, and educate its viewers.
Educating Your Public
Elements of Success in a Museum Website
A great museum website educates the public about what is taking place and what the museum’s role as cultural magnet truly is. Finally, the audience of a museum can vary from professionals and art lovers to educators and retirees.
The range of potential audience members is vast therefore the museum’s look, design and navigation must appeal to a wide variety of mindsets and viewers.
In order for this mass appeal to be effective, a museum website has to find the right combination between its identity/brand, its target audience, and its mission when it comes to its look and functionality.
Artistry and Engineering
I have always felt a great website is part artistry, part engineering, and part archive. So, to get to the answer, what makes a great museum website? Well, I believe the right combination of artistry, elegance, simplicity, and content are the answer and it takes an experienced team of web and branding pros to help facilitate this creation for any institution.
Succesful Museum Web Design
Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) Miami
I love the Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) website. It is colorful, fun, informative, and of course, mobile-friendly. It is also lively and very contemporary, reflecting its diverse community and mission of showing forward-thinking contemporary art to an international audience.
In this image on the left the subtlety of the blue/green background, pink text and bold, large black fonts combine to signify the boldness of Miami, the hispanic, tropical flavor of the city, and the contemporary minimalist aesthetic associated with today’s art world.
Even the most superficial glance evokes fun, warmth, and a bit of sophistication.
Succesful Museum Web Design
The Broad Los Angeles
Another fine example of museum web design, The Broad in Los Angeles website provides viewers with substantial images of the collection as well as a very clear navigation system that prevents one from feeling inundated with too much stimuli and innovation. It is both a functional and fun visit and it makes learning about this new contemporary art museum a pleasure.
The website complements the boldness of the architecture and the magnitude of the wealth associated with the institution’s founder, Eli Broad, one of the wealthiest art collectors in the world.
The Future of Web Design
The future of great web design, indeed design in general, lies in simplicity and elegance. As our worlds get more and more cluttered with information, stimuli and diversions, both visual and mental, it becomes more important than ever to prioritize the concepts and images we are trying to communicate with a very plain and clear message.
For art museums this means limiting the home page to its essentials, keeping navigation simple with many interior links on main pages and providing informative content that does not overwhelm the viewer.
For information about Mediasophia’s web design, branding and marketing services for museums we invite you to contact us or visit our new Museums page.
The Three “E”s