Long Island Children's Museum

The Long Island Children's Museum is an interactive museum and event space located in Garden City, New York. They came to Blenderbox is 2016 seeking a completely redesigned website and overall content strategy.

Our team delivered a flexible Django-powered site that allowed administrators to showcase exhibits, schedule events, and update information for new and returning visitors to the musem.

Initial Approach

When we began this project, the old LICM.org existing website, had a variety of different issues:

  1. It was very difficult to navigate. The main navigation, along with links within the site, seemed to serve unpredictable content.
  2. Museum offerings were unclear, especially for large groups
  3. Pages often had way too much content

Site Visit

We eventually visited LICM to get a better feeling of the museum experience.

We performed interviews with current LICM Staff, LICM members (who mostly consist of parents and grandparents of children who frequently attend) along with the founding members and board of the museum.

This provided us with great feedback about the challenges that the museum faces along with how a new website might be able to alleviate those issues. Among these challenges, the most important was communicating their offerings more effectively to new visitors of the museum.

Sitemaps & Content Modeling

Our first design task was to create the navigation system for the site. Top-level navigation sections were based on data found on existing analytics reports in addition to interviews with stakeholders about priority sections.

In addition to a sitemap, we also began crafting a "content model" for the site, or a spreadsheet of special content types that helps developers design the basic architecture of their Django app.

Mobile Navigation

The architecture of the mobile navigation was meant to be easy to scan for new visitors, and very predictable. We utilized helptext as a fail safe for users that might be unsure whether or not the content they are looking for is within that seciton.

Ticketing and Membership links appear below the main navigation. These were popular destinations that LICM admins and staff noted and were reinforced through Analytics data.

Homepage

Unlike some of our other website projects, the Homepage was the first template we started designing. This exercise started very high-level, simply using blocks to represent content types and hierarchy.

This helped the team iterate quickly on how to best serve the needs of users coming to the Museum's site for any number of reasons.

Exhibits

Exhibits are considered a unique content type, administrable in the DjangoCMS backend.

Within these pages, not only did we need to surface information about the background of the exhibit, but also relevant classroom materials for field trips.

Exhibits are classified as either permanent installations or temporary exhibits. As such, we designed temporary exhibits to have an expiration date. When expired, they are moved to a "Past Exhibits" page.

Events

Events are another special content type that can be added in the backend. They can be filtered by either age group or day, a key takeaway from our discussions with LICM parents.

It's also worth noting that LICM has an internal calendar for administrative and scheduling use. We were tempted to have the systems talk to each other (simular to our work with Mellon Intranet), but we decided that it would have been a rather messy integration point with push/pull requirements.

Here's an example of an event detail page:

Key Takeaways

This project had a number of exciting design challenges. Among them was the balance between usability and flashiness.

The diversity of Long Island forces the LICM team to think very carefully about delivering information in a way that was accessible to users of all ages, skill levels, and backgrounds. This guided our thinking as we made design decisions.

As an example, heading copy was crafted carefully and content beneath it was made visually distinctive. Navigation copy too was very important and we ran internal tests using Treejack with team-members to ensure that labels made sense.

These small things add up and make the experience of using the site just that much more useful and relevant!

About the Team

Art Director: Ben Paddock
Lead UX Designer: Luis Queral
Project Management: John Yates
Development: Kate Edmundson