Indianapolis Museum of Art Collection Website

Poject Role: Design Lead

Designed and developed while working at the IMA Lab, I worked as the design lead to redesign the Indianapolis Museum of Art online collection and search interface. After analyzing user paths and analytics on existing collection page users, the interface was redesigned with a mobile first, flexible interface for displaying object data to scholars, researchers, museum visitors and art enthusiasts alike.

The goal of the site is to encourage exploration and discoverability of objects throughout the IMA’s collection of over 54,000 objects. The end result is a digital collection searchable by metadata fields, including color, with hi-res zoomable imagery and image download capabilities.

American Alliance of Museums said "The excellent interface and functionality allow someone to explore a huge collection without having to have any pre knowledge of what's in the collection. The search is powerful for both experts and novices. The image quality and deep zoom is wonderful and the onward journeys to other artworks ‘you may like’ works beautifully."

Insights

 

From September 2013-October 2014, mobile and tablet users visiting imamuseum.org increased to forty percent of overall website traffic. Within the collection section of the website, visitors viewed more pages (four pages/session) and stayed one minute longer than on pages throughout the rest of the website, totaling a four minute average visit. Within the collection section, users were visiting more then one artwork forty-five percent of the time or returning to search and browse within the collection. Overall, users visiting the collection section of the website were staying within the collection section.

With over 54,000 objects in the IMA collection, some objects have rich data, multiple images, multimedia content and more, while others have little to no data and information, including no imagery. This insight was important to the approach of the redesign of our collection pages where I designed collapsable sections that would simply hide if the data wasn’t present.

Technical Approach

 

The redesign of the IMA collection pages was a twofold approach; a chance to re-architect the way we pulled in data to the collections site as well as an opportunity to redesign the front-end user experience with collection data.

A team of engineers, myself and a front-end designer worked to update our technical approach to serving data and build a static front-end using HTML & CSS.  Our curatorial, photography and many other departments across the institution were making daily edits to collection metadata and were not seeing that reflected on the website. After our redesign and data improvements, the website data was pulled each night to reflect the most up-to-date research being conducted at the museum. 

Design Approach

Given user insights, my design approach was a mobile-first, single column layout designed to encourage exploration and discoverability of objects throughout the collection.

Object Page Before

Object Page Before

Object Page After

Object Page After

 

The design is meant to increase visibility of the artwork imagery, as well as the research and scholarship unique to the IMA. The redesign brings greater emphasis to the hi-res object photography, object status (on view or not currently on view) gallery labels, provenance information, related text and multimedia content as well as rights and reproductions information and object download capabilities.

Given that users coming to the collection section were staying within this section of the site, I proposed the addition of Search the Collection in the navigation, as well as a more minimal navigation and no footer.

New functionality like zoom and full page viewer were added through object navigation. Also through object navigation, users may jump down to read tombstone Object Information immediately with the 'info' button.

Within the Object Information section, metadata fields now cross-link for browsing and searching by fields such as 'Textile and Fashion Arts' and hex values through search by color.

Finally, the redesign gives more visual prominence to cross-collection exploration through You May Also Like, renamed from Related Objects as not to infer an art historical relationship. 

Search

 

The Search section of the site allows users to search by any keyword, sort by date, relevance, and more. Search facets are based on object metadata and allow users to get more specific with their query. Additionally, if a user enters an object page through a search they're able to view the next and previous artworks from their query. (Note: the current site has gotten updates since my redesign and doesn't reflect this.)

Results

 

The redesign yielded a shift in institutional prioritization of digital scholarship and research and thereby potential for growth with conservation, archives and ongoing collection research and documentation. 

After the successful launch of the new IMA collection website, our Archives department wanted to create a similar, searchable website for their newly digitized Miller House and Garden collection. Given the scalable nature of the data layer and design, this was a seamless implementation. Changes included adding new search facets based on archival item metadata, the addition of a preferred citation feature, information on copying, publishing and using the archives. Take a look at archive.imamuseum.org.