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Design This Web Site
April 25, 2006

If you were Boss of the World, and you were designing a new visit section for the SAAM and National Portrait Gallery Web site, you would...

Posted by Michael Edson on April 25, 2006 in American Art Here


Have a section that tells you what is going on Today! --linked from the main page.
That way you don't have to go through specific events like Gallery Talks, then find the date.

Thanks Sean. Is it that you want to know what's going on TODAY because you want to see if it makes sense to visit TODAY? Or is it more that you want to be able to quickly/directly pick ANY DAY and see everything that's happening on THAT DAY? (And a squillion-dollar question: do you want to see a list of on-view exhibitions as well as events/films/programs and that kind of stuff on the same view?)

My 2 cents as a web designer and as someone who just moved into your neighborhood and has spent a lot of time lately trying to find out exactly this kind of information from various DC museum web sites:

The "About" page is really the top level page for the site. I would merge this with the pretty but essentially information-free splash page that is now at Give your graphics people the challenge of creating a main page with the good aesthetics of the splash page and the information content of the "About" page. Personally, that's the kind of challenge I love about doing web design -- getting form and function to work in a complementary manner.

That leaves three subpages from the "About" page (which is now the main page) -- "Visit", "Calendar", and "What's on View". But when you think about it, all of these actually relate to visiting, so this breakdown doesn't really make sense. That is why you are having a little trouble getting these to flow nicely. I would recommend that you think about re-grouping the information by asking yourself "given that people looking at this page are considering visiting, what would they need to know?" I suspect this will lead to categories something like "How to get here", "Useful Info for your visit" (for the misc stuff at the bottom of the current "Visit" page), and then the "Calendar" and "Current Exhibits" pages. Working titles obviously.

Nice Tim. Thanks!

I like the idea of front loading the About info with the splash. Can you think of a site that does this well?

Mike, good questions. And my answers are yes. In the best of museum Web site experiences I want to see on one page what is going on in the entire museum for any chosen day.

What if I'm sitting at work or at home and have time to jump over to the museum for an hour? What can I expect to experience in that hour? What if I've got all day? Since I live in DC the general collections aren't particularly what I'm interested, but special exhibits and any other happenings are of interest.

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