A Fully Interactive Museum Experience – Designing EMP’s Mobile Site
EMP Museum is unlike any other museum experience. They do away with the concepts of untouchable exhibits and reserved whispering. Inside the futuristic swirling-steel Frank O. Gehry building, EMP Museum has created a totally interactive visual and auditory experience. On the leading edge of contemporary pop-culture, they have a busy schedule of exhibits, programs, and events. They needed a site that both represented their forward-thinking interactive brand and simplified the visitor experience. As a non-profit organization, they also needed to plan for budget constraints.
Phase 1 – Starting with Usability
Before planning the scope of 2013 website changes, EMP employed OpenRoad’s User Experience team to conduct a usability review of the full website (www.EMPMuseum.org). We detailed a number of changes that EMP Museum can make over the long-term to improve their user experience. When we compared our usability findings with the device traffic, it became apparent that improving the mobile experience would have the biggest impact on results. In particular, visitors wanted to be able to quickly scan current events and purchase tickets from their mobile device. Simply compacting the desktop site into a mobile-friendly version still provided too much content for mobile users to be able to efficiently achieve their goals. By starting with a usability review, we could provide recommendations for EMP to optimize their budget and focus on the most critical issues.
Phase 2 – Design and Development
Taking the usability recommendations into consideration, our design and development teams set out to revamp the mobile information architecture and content management system templates. EMP has a huge number of constantly changing events and programs that needed to fit onto a tiny screen. From a design perspective, the challenge was to simplify the organization of large amounts of content. As can be seen in the before picture, the site had issues with an extremely long-scrolling home page.
From a development perspective, the challenge was to simplify the content management system templates, so content owners could easily manage adding and updating events. Working within their existing content management system, Umbraco, we developed templates that let content owners update information in one place for both mobile and desktop. We added a separate tab within templates for mobile specific images and details. This ensures consistency across mobile and desktop and speeds up content entry.
The Final Result
Through a redesign of the mobile Information Architecture (IA), visual design, and CMS templates, the new mobile experience:
- provides clear call to actions throughout the site to register for events and purchase tickets
- reduces load times, which is important for customers with limited bandwidth and/or data plans
- displays content in layouts optimized for small screens (previous version linked users to desktop version to view details on events and exhibitions)
If you’re unsure where to start with making improvements to your website, always look to user experience. Completing an initial usability review can help prioritize development initiatives and drive the maximum ROI for your web budget.