Museums and the Web

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National Portrait Gallery website

People's Choice:
2 votes
National Portrait Gallery, London

National Portrait Gallery homepageThe National Portrait Gallery website serves to open the gallery up to a world of users. With visitors from every conceivable walk of life, the new site needed to be clear yet elegant, expansive yet intuitive and historical yet modern. It needed to meet the needs of today's users and allow them to easily and enjoyably navigate through it to find the information they want and more.

After designing the old site 8 years ago, we researched the needs of modern day users - both visitors and stakeholders. Following on from these findings and implementing our user-centred design approach, we created the new site, replacing the old back-end CMS to meet the flexibility and adaptability requirements of the museum staff and implementing a refreshed front-end presentation and information architecture to exceed the expectations of the site's users.

The site opens up the Gallery's extensive collection of portraits - the biggest in the world - by offering greater-sized visuals, increased zoom facilities and an archive of private papers that are now online for the first time. The website focuses on the portraits themselves, putting them at the forefront of the site as prominently and as often as possible. These portraits are searchable by name, and can also be searched by date and occupation, with a facility to identify individuals within group portraits and browse the collection by rooms. Further functional improvements include a 'What's On' calendar and an e-commerce system that integrates with the collection pages to link to products that relate to the relevant sitter or artist. All these aspects combine seamlessly to ensure a smooth and simple experience for visitors.

With a wealth of visitors as diverse as the collection of the gallery itself, the new National Portrait Gallery's website places the gallery's remarkable collection at the heart of a crisp, clean and intuitive website.

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The website is a wonderful and critical part of the National Portrait Gallery’s future. This is an excellent step forward.’

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