The El Segundo Museum of Art opened its doors in the restaurant district of downtown El Segundo in January 2012, and has since hosted 4 successful experiences, or exhibits, Desire, Anti-Ark, Truth, and Objectified. I came to museum at the end of May with a mock up of what I thought would best serve their community. I wanted to make them a site that was in line with their current design sensibilities, easy to use, and simple to navigate.
From their sun-lit, custom designed building to their bold sans-serif logo and expertly laid out print work, I knew that ESMoA.org would rely on straight lines and an intuitive frame. I wanted to let the content speak for itself. I also knew that the staff would be updating the site themselves several times a day and I didn’t want it to be difficult or frustrating to work with. Taking a cue from their white on black logo, I started with a bold true-black header and clear horizontal menu. Then I made a lefthand sidebar for the most relevant, as well as the most call-to-action content, since users eyes tend to settle on the left-hand side of a site last, when they’re ready to engage more fully.
The homepage at ESMoA.org has an additional right-hand sidebar that was conceived by the museum’s designer in order to place the most relevant information front and center for site visitors. Every step of the collaborative design process was made with usability and clarity in mind. ESMoA is a community institution, and we very much wanted every member of that community to find exactly what they were looking for when they logged on.
On the usability side, we worked with WordPress custom post-types to make it easy to add a variety of content without increasing complexity behind the scenes. We used post-categories to automatically populate a majority of the repeating content, cutting the potential workload way down. For example, an Experience themed tango class might show up on the Program page, on the corresponding Experience page, on the Adult page in the Education section, and in the sidebar with three simple clicks. Then when it is no longer upcoming, the event automatically leaves the sidebar and moves to the “Past Events” section in the Program. One click relegates past events and Experiences to the “Past Experiences” section and out of the current Program without taking them out of any Education pages they may be showcased in.
Working with the owners and staff of ESMoA has been a treat. Taking meetings in a museum, bathed in sunlight and surrounded by art is only one perk of collaborating with this team. Their enthusiasm for the community is contagious, and they work tirelessly to ensure that their visitors and partners have the best possible take-away. El Segundo is very lucky to have such a hopeful new institution, and I am proud to have helped by adding ESMoA.org to their toolkit.