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Overview

The Museum of Science, Boston — one of the premier science museums in the country — engaged Velir to lead their digital transformation, which started with rebuilding their operational systems to deploy a new CRM, ticketing system, email platform, and data infrastructure. Thrilled with the results of this first phase, the Museum tasked Velir with the next step in their digital transformation — redesigning their website. They hoped to build a site that could provide a strong foundation and versatile functionality while establishing a new digital-first content hub for their organization.

URL

mos.org

Museum of Science
Screenshots of designs for the new Museum of Science homepage.
The Museum wanted their new homepage to transcend a museum-only experience to captivate global audiences with scientific content.

Challenge

As part of their digital transformation, the Museum set an ambitious goal to expand their reach in the museum, classrooms, and online from five million people per year to 100 million per year by 2030. To help accomplish this goal, the Museum needed a dynamic new website to grow their audiences. They wanted their brand to transcend a museum-only experience and become a leading international voice that captivates global audiences with its scientific content, and the website had a critical role to play as the hub for that vision. To attract new audiences, they knew their site had to efficiently serve teachers, donors, museum visitors, museum members, and global digital users. This required streamlining complex user journeys and finetuning the site’s search experience with their redesigned site.

On top of improving their site’s user experience, the Museum also needed to reshape their site’s content authoring experience. Their previous site was built on legacy technical platforms and made more unwieldy by years of patchwork updates by different parties. All of this made it extremely challenging for content authors to update content and led to a lack of internal faith in the website’s capabilities.

In addition to disorganized digital media and documents, there was dated and inconsistent digital branding across platforms, and hundreds of page templates and modules that were difficult to update. These expansive and inflexible older systems made updates and new features difficult and sometimes required developers to post content themselves. To become a leading voice in science, and provide cutting-edge topical content, the Museum recognized that they must make their content authors much nimbler and more self-sufficient.

The Museum of Science, Boston’s challenges included:

  • Fixing dated and inconsistent digital branding across platforms
  • Reducing bloat left by their legacy CMS platform, which included hundreds of insecure, hard-to-update page templates and modules
  • Streamlining complex user journeys into more efficient ones
  • Finetuning their site’s search experience for audiences
  • Revamping an inflexible platform and codebase to transform the content authoring experience
  • Organizing digital media and documents scattered across platforms
  • Changing the site from one established around a physical museum space to one geared toward global scientific audiences
  • Empowering content authors with the tools to easily publish topical scientific content
Screenshots of designs for the new navigation for Mos.org on desktop and mobile.
The Museum needed help streamlining their complex user journeys into more efficient ones, and we saw updates to their navigation as a way to do that.
Screenshots of designs for a variety of new components Velir designed for MoS.org.
We designed and built a Drupal 10 website for the Museum that serves their audiences while showcasing topical scientific content.

Approach

To help the Museum streamline their site’s user experience (UX) and effectively increase their reach, our UX experts worked with them to define all their audiences and research each audience’s specific needs. We used that strategic thinking to revamp the site’s information architecture (IA) to efficiently meet each audience’s needs. Then we designed and built a website on Drupal 10 that serves the Museum’s audiences while showcasing topical scientific content.

To revolutionize content authoring we built the Museum a kit of parts (KOP) like we did for a foundation client of ours. Based on a lenticular theme, new color palette, and updated typography, this KOP provides a library of pre-built components that the Museum’s content authors can easily assemble into unique pages and even new sites, without development assistance. We knew a KOP would allow content authors to quickly create on-brand pages and sites, which saves money because they can be built efficiently and require less maintenance.

We also leveraged Drupal’s Layout Builder module to transform the Museum’s content authoring. Layout Builder lets content authors drag and drop components into preset layouts in Drupal, re-order them, and change their contents without code. Since Layout Builder is built entirely with Drupal core APIs, every facet can be modified. We customized the Museum’s Layout Builder interface for smoother content authoring and easier usage of complex components. For example, we provided the Museum with a Solr search widget featuring customizable facets that content authors could modify from an intuitive interface.

With all these amazing possibilities, we knew Layout Builder would provide the power and flexibility to shape the authoring experience into an enjoyable one for the Museum’s content authors. To ensure our handoff to the Museum’s content authors would be smooth, we created a content playbook for them to guide their efforts into the future.

Leveraging Drupal 10 also made the Museum’s site much nimbler because it allowed us to reduce the 200 modules from the old Museum website to just seven custom modules with minimal alterations. This new list of modules even includes site search and a Ticketure/Salesforce integration. We also integrated Drupal 10 with the Museum’s digital asset management system (DAM), Acquia DAM, so content authors can easily leverage approved media assets in their work.

Our approach included:

  • Crafting user journeys to inform a new IA for the site
  • Building a KOP to serve as the foundation for the Museum’s future digital content needs
  • Basing our KOP on a new modular design and design system with a lenticular theme, new color palette, and updated typography
  • Revolutionizing the Museum’s content authoring experience by utilizing Drupal 10 and Layout Builder for more efficient and flexible content creation
  • Streamlining the Museum’s 200 modules down to just seven key ones, which contain minimal modifications so they’re easier to maintain

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Solution

We delivered a dynamic Drupal 10 website with updated IA and branding that positions the Museum as a global leader in science education. Their redesigned site’s new IA and search functionality powered by SOLR quickly meet the needs of all their audiences as a scientific hub and a physical museum experience. In addition to improved performance and reduced accessibility issues, this more agile site is simpler to maintain from a development perspective. It’s also easier to keep on brand thanks to the KOP we designed for content authors, and Drupal’s Layout Builder, which empowers content authors to publish timely scientific content. The integrations we established with their DAM and Salesforce unite disparate systems to allow a more centralized user experience for site visitors and the Museum’s staff that’s more efficient for everyone.

Results

  • Increased accessibility and usability — site performance was boosted by over 100% and accessibility issues were reduced by 94%
  • A KOP with modern components and a new design system that makes content authoring more efficient and flexible
  • An integration between MOS.org and the Museum’s Digital Asset Management system (Acquia DAM) so authors can use approved media
  • A vastly improved search experience powered by Solr that allows users to find relevant content more easily
  • A reliable and efficient platform (Drupal 10) that has reduced technical debt and is easier for development teams to maintain
  • A streamlined IA and navigation that guide audiences through every step of their journeys
  • A content playbook to guide the Museum’s content authoring teams into the future
  • New tools for Classy forms and Salesforce forms to help centralize content and experiences to the Museum’s main website

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