One MET. Many Worlds.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, housing one of the world’s most iconic art collections. Founded in 1870, its permanent collections showcase over two million works of art. The Museum has 3 different locations across New York City – The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters.
About The project
The Met team was aware that its audiences continued to increase their adoption of mobile channels since its 2011 website relaunch. As a result, they were focused on reaching their users where they were and ensuring that their digital properties worked well across the gamut of devices in use - smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers (the Met’s traffic is about 30, 10, and 60 percent, respectively to those platforms). Approximately 6.7 million people visited one of The Met’s three physical locations this past year. In contrast, The Met had 33 million visits to its website this past year (36 percent international; 64 percent domestic), further supporting their conjecture that their digital presence was a key aspect of connecting with their audience.
The Met has been operating two websites—one for desktop and another for mobile, and also wanted to reduce the backend operational costs of maintaining these different applications. Continuing to make its art accessible to audiences around the world and to show how art can be relevant to people’s daily lives – this is what really motivates The Met.
With its recent rebranding effort, The Met introduced a “greater clarity and consistency in all of their materials and communications." This refresh effort intended to expand this clarity to The Met’s digital channels as well, and really hone in on the institution’s vision and brand promise. The Met also planned to use this effort as an opportunity to simplify the site's back end. They aimed to have a componentized structure for their digital solution and to also reduce the number of templates in use to make content easier to manage and find. Based on their long-term vision, their project goals included:
- Utilizing their new institutional identity from their recent rebranding in all of their digital efforts
- Streamlining editorial operations
- Updating to the latest technologies
- Upgrading the solutions’ content management platform
The website supports 500,000-plus pages, 450,000 collection objects, hundreds of thousands of images, blog posts, and videos, 3,300 events a year, and many ways for an extremely large audience to transact and interact with The Met. To this end, The Met’s design and developer teams partnered with outside agencies, Fantasy Interactive and Velir, to provide the complex design and technical effort needed to refresh such a large solution.
The update to the website involved a fresh design, simplified navigation, and more robust infrastructure. With its responsive design framework, the site gracefully transitions across devices —smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers— in order to improve the experience of the website for all users, no matter which platform they use. The refresh focused on better organization of information and an improved user experience to help customers find the exhibit information they need and to make form entry (e.g., for donations) more efficient. The new solution also supports higher resolution images, which allows for images of greater detail to be served up on browsers that support them.
The new solution empowers authors to be self-sufficient and build pages with different configurations without additional developer involvement. The modular structure also aligned with The Met’s editorial team’s manner of creating and publishing content in an iterative fashion – allowing them to surface new content and components on pages as information becomes available. The most important point of focus, however, was the art, and the project team wanted to ensure that with all of the other factors in play, this priority didn’t get lost. The team collaborated closely with internal stakeholders at The Met, including curators and conservators, to ensure that they prioritized the right features to keep the spotlight on where it needed to be.
The Met is highly aware of the fact that many of its online audiences might never get the chance to visit its locations in person. But its refreshed online presence has provided the organization with another avenue for engaging its audiences and continuing to expand its reach.
The organization pushes out over 500 blog posts a year and its blog program is a key avenue for engaging its audiences and establishing a community within them. The Met allows anyone around the Museum to contribute to its blogs and this has enabled them to reach a far broader range of people than they could with a single, institutional voice - its Teen Blog, written by teens for teens, and its Scientific Research blog content are just two examples. Since updating its blog landing page through the refresh, the Met has provided visitors with an easier way to access all of the active blogs that have been published.
The new solution will power the thousands of events that The Met hosts or partners on, and will also serve as a powerful platform for The Met to put its exhibitions online. Visitors get a lot from these online presentations - audio guides, relevant blog posts, location information, object packages, and a whole host of other related content.
Overall, the solution has provided The Met with a solid foundation upon which they can be agile, innovate, and continue to expand their digital footprint.
Visit the site at www.metmuseum.org