Founded in 1883, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South. Today, Telfair Museums consists of three unique buildings: the Telfair Academy, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Jepson Center for the Arts. Together, these three unique buildings and three distinct collections bridge centuries of art, history and architecture, in Savannah, GA. Telfair’s website provides intuitive tools for telling the museums’ stories, demonstrating its impact and mission, and illuminating its distinguished collections.
url: telfair.org | completed: July 2018
Three Museums, One Site
One unique characteristic that we sought to address in the redesign is that The Telfair Museums are made up of three unique buildings: Jepson Center for the Arts, the Telfair Academy, and the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters. Together, these three museums tell the singular story. An overarching priority for the new website’s content strategy is to communicate the three-in-one nature and Telfair Museums and the value of a single ticket. Creating an online experience that reflects each museum’s individual strengths while keeping a consistent visual tone and messaging became one of the greatest challenges of the new site. Varying content types (ie exhibitions, events, stories, etc) needed to have relational connections to specific museums while also fitting in the site’s expanded story. Dedicated museum landing pages were also created to collect the variety of content types that celebrate the art, history, and architecture of each building, while unifying them as a single presence in Savannah.
eMuseum to WordPress API Integration
A chief goal of the redesign was to better showcase the museum’s vast collection throughout the site. As the majority of Telfair’s objects were already entered into the collection management system TMS from Gallery Systems, we used TMS’s API (Application Program Interface) to merge of all their artwork data into WordPress. Through their site’s interface, Telfair can now reference, feature, and embed collection items throughout the website using a set of custom components. This integration allows individual pieces of artwork to have their own site pages, which can be augmented with related content such as stories, educational resources, events, or galleries.
To best empower their development office, Telfair Museums sought to visually convey the impact their three museums had on the community in and around Savannah, GA. As a part of our content strategy sessions, we pulled data points from annual reports and printed materials that became at-a-glance infographic data points showing Telfair’s outreach and impact. Through impact numbers, pull quotes, and inspiration galleries, this stand-alone page became a go-to resource to provide key metrics and accompanying visuals to best relay the impact of the museums’ mission.
Telfair Museums knew that their website could be a more powerful extension of its mission if it was based on a sustainable, long-term content strategy. Prior to the project kick-off, our team visited Savannah for two sessions focused on content strategy, user experience and design. Our content strategy sessions focused on identifying core museum goals and content themes. One priority that emerged from the content strategy sessions was the overall branding and positioning of The Telfair Museums. The positioning statement featured on the home page, “Three Museums Bridging 200 Years of Art, History, & Architecture in Savannah” was borne out of these sessions and defined many subsequent user experience and design decisions.
Topic Focused Stories
Being the oldest public museum in the south, with three unique buildings and three distinct collections, Telfair Museums share quite a rich history. As articulated in the new content strategy, the museums’ stories would focus on overarching themes of art, history, and architecture. With so many stories to tell, it was important to create a content categorization that expressed the museum’s mission through these themes. By grouping strategic subtopics beneath each of these main themes, users can not only explore the track of content they are most interested in, but also, easily explore cross pollinated story topics. .
Drag and Drop Components
Telfair’s diverse array of content required a diverse set of tools to adequately create the variety of site pages. Through our discovery process, we uncovered 14 content types and elements that would become the building blocks. These 14 components augment the content that can be displayed on a dozen unique page templates and give the ability for each page to be completely tailored for the desired content. The drag and drop interface of the component system also makes editing these pages for design and layout consideration incredibly easy.
One of the core takeaways from Telfair Musuems’ content strategy was to reinforce the three museums connection whenever possible. With such a variety of content types and relational data, devising a method for ease and automation of connecting content was essential. Faceting information based on a variety of categories allowed multiple content types to be connected and dynamically pulled into corresponding content sections. For example, event components can pull in event listings based on type or museum, stories are sorted by overarching themes and cross-indexed by subtopics, and the “related” component allows Telfair to establish a relational connection that works in both directions from any point of content type to another.
Swipe to view the original “before” site.
“Their attention to detail and responsiveness to our needs was excellent. They were extremely good listeners – which is critical in an agency relationship and not always easy to find. They took ownership in the project and provided a creative solution to our organization. Their experience with museum website design is definitely an asset and sets them apart from other agencies.
They also worked incredibly well with third party vendors – eMuseum/Gallery Systems and Altru, plus our web hosts and IT company. We appreciate that they went the extra mile in coordinating with all the different external parties involved in the website.”
Vicki Scharfberg, Director of Marketing & Public Relations