Website Re-Design Ally: A Case Study
“We were completely lost. 4Web guided us through the process and understood what we needed,” says Howayda Abu Affan, Assistant Director of the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts. “Working with 4Web put into perspective what was really important for our website.”
The museum’s primary need was for a website that could be updated easily to reflect the current exhibits and provide the interaction that modern visitors expect. Howayda explains, “Our original site was designed in 2008 on a platform that was supposed to be updated and maintained by the designer. Every time we added a photo or a bit of text ourselves, entire pages would shift.”
Finding the Right Developer
The museum’s search for a new developer began online and eventually led them to the New England Museum Association (NEMA), where they asked for recommendations. They received two replies; both recommended 4Web in glowing terms. Heidi Stanclift, owner of 4Web, remembers her first glimpse of the Armenian Museum site and first conversations with Howayda. “This was an HTML site that the developer had to update. It was not mobile friendly, it had confusing navigation, it was difficult for visitors to contact anyone, and the home page did not reflect the real museum, which had undergone a major renovation and reorganization of its exhibits.” In addition, 4Web found that the security for the online gift shop was out of date, which greatly concerned everyone.
“I couldn’t explain why our old website was so difficult to update,” Howayda says, “but 4Web was so knowledgeable that they understood what I was talking about. Everyone at 4Web was engaged in the project and they answered every question we had. I took the 4Web proposal to my board. It was the only option that made sense. Working with 4Web put into perspective for us what we really needed for our website and made us realize how ‘off’ our old website was.”
Implementing a Website Strategy
Howayda continues, “We had a long discussion with 4Web on how to make the website less complicated for the visitors. We added a section for news. Our calendar now shows on the home page. We went through our gift shop inventory and decided which things we really wanted to show on the website. The contact forms are new. We’re getting a lot more communication through our website and our board calls it ‘a tremendous job.’” With a redesigned home page that accurately reflects all the museum has to offer, the new site is more welcoming to visitors and makes it easy and safe for them to become sponsors, apply for internships, ask questions, shop and get a preview of the exhibits.
Training and Ongoing Support
But with all her enthusiasm for the new website, Howayda felt one lingering concern: now that 4Web was finished, would they abandon the museum and the site? Would the museum staff be able to update the content without wrecking pages every time? She reports, “After the website went live, 4Web actually prepared custom how-to videos that used our own website to show how to make updates to every page. It was very easy. The follow-through and support—the videos—are unbelievable. 4Web supports you so you can maintain that great design. They understand what a museum needs and they are completely committed to your project.”