SCMA Design + Communications Website with Exhibition Microsite

SCMA Design + Communications Website with Exhibition Microsite

The Smith College Museum of Art completed the redevelopment and redesign of a new website in November 2019. This project was the culmination of a two-phased Design + Communications Project that began in 2018 with a brand refresh/update, including a new logo. By late 2019, we had in place refreshed communications and a new website and were well positioned when the pandemic struck and required all communication to go fully digital.

The SCMA Design + Communication Project was a broad-based, multi-faceted design and communications project that was deeply rooted in the museum’s mission and guided by its strategic plan (2017–2022). The overarching goal of this project was to generate a sense of welcome, inclusivity and dynamism about SCMA among the museum’s visitors and audiences — online, onsite, and through digital and print communications.

The timing of this two-part project was significant not only in relation to our strategic plan, but also to the celebration of the centennial of the museum’s founding (2019 through 2020). This was an ideal moment to envision a refreshed brand together with a new website to communicate SCMA’s forward-looking mission and strategic priorities. 

When the pandemic struck in March 2020, the programming planned to mark our centennial was curtailed. Over the past year, our new online presence has provided a way to sustain our mission and to maintain connections with our audiences as we navigated this unprecedented time.

For the Design + Communications Project, SCMA hired the brand strategy, experience and design firm Minelli, Inc., based in Boston, MA. Minelli worked with SCMA for the duration of the two-phased project.

Above is the redesigned and re-conceived logo (designed by Minelli, Inc.), which embraces the tensions of our dual roles as an academic institution and a public museum.  We provide space for teaching and learning, as well as exploration, discovery and personal enjoyment.

 

SCMA website: scma.smith.edu

The following are examples of Home page sliders from the new website:

 

SCMAinsider Blog landing page

 

Also, as part of the redesign of the website, SCMA created a new Shop website. More data on the Shop is found below.

SCMA Shop Home Page

 

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Two Website Additions in 2020

In response to the pandemic, we developed two additional website features, SCMA from Home Web page and an exhibition microsite. Both provided greater audience access to program, collection and exhibition content.

 

‘SCMA from home’ Web page


SCMA The\Now\Next Microsite


The technical specifications of the new website included:

  • Development in new C.M.S. Drupal 8, moving from CMS eZ Publish
  • Meeting the Smith College General Drupal Coding Standards 
  • A website fully compliant with the accessibility standards of WCAG and 2.0 Level AA for web-based technology
  • Digital presentation of the Web: Smartphone, Tablet, Laptop, Desktop
    • Designs to work well with three standard breakpoints
  • Development of a shareable, calendar with filters
  • Integration of existing blog plus option to add additional blogs into the site
  • Google Analytics Tracking capabilities
    • To maintain KPV tracking, installed GTM container on all pages of the site
  • New SCMA shop site developed in Shopify and integrated into Drupal 8 website

 

Measures of Success

Our goal of comprehensively updating SCMA’s communications has been fully met and greeted with excitement by museum visitors. We launched the refreshed brand and new website in November 2019, and visitor feedback has shown that the new look and feel of our communications is successfully conveying the invitation to explore and discover SCMA online. During our current period of remote operations, the new website has become an indispensable tool in the effort to remain relevant to our audiences, and we have continued to adapt the site accordingly.

Visitor engagement with our website is typically driven by in-person visits to the museum and participation in programming and exhibitions. Since the museum building has been mostly closed since the launch of the new website, we do not yet have relevant year-over-year data for measuring the impact of this project. Due to the timing of the website launch and pandemic, a typical year-over-year data comparison is not currently a useful tool for measuring the success of this project. Comprehensive evaluation of the new website will be conducted once the museum is able to reopen to the public.

However, we have seen significant increases in visitor engagement with key sections of the new website:

  • 22% increase in audience engagement with SCMA blog posts since the launch of the new website. During the time frame of 11/1/2020 – 3/15/2021, blog engagement was up 88%.

  • Over 400 unique Pageviews per month of “SCMA From Home” since its launch in April 2020

  • Visitors are spending over 3 minutes on the Then/Now/Next exhibition page. This is the inaugural exhibition that launched the new exhibition microsite. The average time spent on any given page of the website is 1 minute and 20 seconds.

  • The SCMA online shop was live for 4 months (November 2019–February 2020) before the pandemic closed our doors to the public. In that period, we saw a 14% increase in online sales. In the time since, the shop has continued to gain traction as seen in the table below. This streamlined and user-friendly online platform allowed the museum to host a virtual form of our annual trunk show (traditionally held in New York City or Los Angeles) in November 2020 with tremendous success.


SCMA Shop Website

Former Shop Website New Shop Website New Shop Website
November 1, 2018 – October 31, 2019 November 1, 2019 – October 31, 2020 November 1, 2020 – March 15, 2021
Pageviews 27,681 30,277 53,121
Orders Placed 62 242 353

 

In summary, the new, comprehensive SCMA website and exhibition microsite have helped SCMA successfully navigate the pandemic over the last year. This online engagement has not only supported, but also deepened, the museum’s mission of connecting people to art, ideas and each other.