The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, is home to the largest collection of paintings, drawings and letters by Vincent van Gogh. On 14 July 2020, we launched the new website in which Van Gogh’s color palette is combined with powerful stories full of interactive images, videos and comparisons. We aim to bring the museum website and our social media channels closer together, creating one big digital Van Gogh world to connect with fans and audiences from all over the world.
With rich and relevant stories, the website brings Van Gogh’s universe to life. The new website fits well with the current era and the position that the Van Gogh Museum holds in the international museum landscape:
- A clean and minimalistic design, giving it a timeless feel
- Background colors have been carefully chosen to reflect Van Gogh’s revolutionary use of color.
- Subtle animated interactions and page transitions to engage with the user
- Cards on the homepage and other landing pages lead the visitor to in-depth content and stories
- Powerful stories, full of interactive images, videos and comparisons.
- Designed for both mobile and desktop.
- Accessible: optimized for screen readers and aiming to fully comply with WCAG 2.1 AA.
Improved collection: new features, substantive art object details, ultra-res image quality
The collection offers more substantive information than before. For example, visitors can see which paintings in the collection are currently on display at the museum (or at least, when the museum reopens).
The new Vincent for scale feature playfully indicates the size of a painting. By placing the painting next to a figure of Van Gogh, who was approx. 1.64 meters (5’ 4”) tall, visitors can see the true size of the work at a glance.
Thanks to the ultra-res storytelling platform Micrio, developed by Q42, you can zoom in to the brushstrokes and smallest details of the paintings.
Furthermore, Micrio allows for easy navigation and annotation of hyper resolution images. This allows us to further explore ways to present our content and offer our audience richer storytelling. For instance, we created an online preview of our new exhibition Here to Stay, which will open at the museum once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.
Improved filters make it easier to search the collection of paintings, drawings and letters. For example, the most popular items are listed first, making it easier for our visitors to find what they are most likely looking for.
Furthermore, with each work, substantive information is now available for art lovers, students and scholars.
Social media-style stories
We had an enormous amount of content available, but it wasn’t easy to convert into different formats. Now, there’s a new structure that allows for more engaging stories, with interactive images and videos, as well as shorter stories enabling us to quickly respond to current events and to better connect to our social media content.
A new series of short stories, similar to the Stories on Instagram and Facebook help to engage visitors in Van Gogh’s life and art and to continue their journey. These stories use images, animations, sections from Van Gogh’s letters and ‘hotspots’ of Van Gogh’s artwork. New story formats include:
– numbered stories, like Five things you need to know about Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.
– short stories that give quick insights into popular subjects like Van Gogh’s illness.
These story formats provide our audiences with more information about Vincent van Gogh, other artists or subjects in an engaging way. Visitors are then encouraged to explore further information and to continue their journey.
As with all our digital product development, we have thoroughly tested the redesign. A software tester of Polteq company was part of the team. He made sure the site was tested for the most popular browsers and devices.
In developing the website a visibly impaired person was involved. In that way, we paid extra attention to accessibility for users with a disability. The website has been optimized for screen readers used by blind and partially sighted people when navigating.
During development, the website has been subjected to two user tests:
- Q42’s Real User Morning, or RUM for short. In an early stage, in February, we tested the concept and design of the new site with 6 users. With predefined scenarios, we were able to see if our assumptions of the UI and UX lived up to the expectations.
- Furthermore, we hired Valsplat agency, for a professional remote usability test in May when we were all in lockdown.
Thanks to this user feedback, we were able to make adjustments in time and correct any ambiguities.