If you haven’t noticed, we have around two dozen events happening at the museum this week, and that’s fairly typical. When we were discussing events and calendar design for the new website, we realized that we had a challenge on our hands. And honestly, we might have underestimated it a bit at first.
The number of events happening at the IMA on any particular day can range from one to ten, and we typically have anywhere from three to seven ongoing exhibitions as well. We didn’t have a chance of plotting all of this information on the traditional monthly calendar, so we took some time to brainstorm a different approach. This sketch contains some ideas from the middle of that process.
After doing these sketches, a little experimenting, and a lot of pondering, we started over from scratch. This time, rather than considering how to display all of this information, we thought about how the calendar should serve the user. Our main goal is to help the website visitor plan a visit to the museum. Most importantly, then, the visitor should be able to pick a day and see what events are happening. We also thought it was important to convey the distribution of events over a number of weeks to enable a browsing mode of interaction, which would increase awareness of our broad array of activities… a win-win scenario.
The resulting design, which also took some inspiration from those initial sketches, is what you see on the calendar page. The traditional date picker in the upper right works in tandem with the timeline to present the viewer with information about events happening on any particular day. The timeline, which is really just a fancy date picker, displays an icon for each event, color-coded by the event type, over a period of about four weeks. Clicking on the event types in the legend toggles between showing all types or showing a single type on the timeline. The initial scroll animation to the current day is a cue intended to suggest that you can scroll the timeline (three months into the past and a year into the future). This can be done by dragging the timeline or using the black buttons to the left and right. Some of the wilder ideas for features included having the event icons rain down from above “like Skittles” when the timeline loads, and making the Wheel of Fortune click-click-click sound during the scroll animation, but in the end we decided that these enhancements might be a little over the top. Just as in film, some of the best effects are those that you don’t notice. One of the hidden beauties of the page design is that the primary functionality is preserved even if the calendar timeline can’t be loaded on the page (if Flash is not enabled, for example).
Other ways to find events on the website include the upcoming event listing on the front page, the exhibitions page, genre-specific pages like talks and special events, and the individual event pages themselves, which are accessible via site search. You can even see a list of upcoming events and exhibitions on the mobile page.
So, how has your experience been finding events on the new website? Let us know if you have any comments or suggestions.
Filed under: Technology