The Science Gallery is an international network of art galleries that create exhibitions that mix art and science, with a target audience is 15-25 year olds, housed in a University setting.
They have a branch here in Melbourne, and their current website has lots of opportunities for improvement.
So I decided as a practice project to try to re-design it. The goal is to practice analysing usability issues in an existing site and improving it, as well as learning about designing for art galleries.
This is a work in progress, but here is what I've done so far:
I started the process by asking: what are the reasons a user might visit the site?
Maybe to learn more about the Gallery, to attend exhibitions or to participate in open calls and job opportunities.
I quickly found that the information relevant to any of these goals is hard to find, unclear or out of date.
Testing the current site
1. Users struggle to find basic information.
I asked 5 users in the target audience to look through the site. Two users had heard of Science Gallery before, and three had not.
When asked to find current events, users clicked on Upcoming Events, leading to a page for an exhibition that is already over.
Users struggled to find basic information on how to visit the gallery, (location and opening hours).
Users found it annoying that dates were not clearly displayed on links to exhibitions and events, so they could not tell what was current, upcoming or already over.
2. Users can't clearly understand what the Gallery is.
When asked to look at the homepage and describe what the Science Gallery is, the users responses were hesitant and mixed. Three described it as a science museum.
One user after thoroughly scanning the page and watching the available video described it as an art gallery for technology.
3. The content is inaccessible to people with visual impairments
Images, videos, and form fields do not have any alt text included, so a screen reader reads them out as the element ('link 1’, ‘form field').
When using a screen reader, the 'jump to navigation’ feature on the site doesn't seem to work.
Navigating through the elements of the site is cumbersome, because of the many menu items at the top and the way the page is structured.
Looking at Similar websites
In Australia, the institution closest to Science Gallery is MOD (Museum of Discovery) which is also associated with the University of South Australia and presents works in the intersection of art and science.
I also looked at the website of ScienceWorks in Melbourne. Because Science Gallery is, ultimately, an art gallery, I also looked at the websites of major galleries throughout Australia – Art Gallery of NSW, National Gallery of VIC, National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of WA, QAGOMA, MONA.
The websites varies a little but have common items in their navigation, mostly based on actions (visit, explore/discover, learn, participate/join)
Most of them feature essential information readily available for visitors – Opening hours, location, current events, tickets.
I found it easy to discover what was happening and how I can access it.
The Science Gallery has the explicit goal of bringing art + science to a diverse, young audience (15-25 yo).
Their current website makes it hard to understand and access information on how to engage with the Gallery, particularly for people that are not familiar with it and people with a visual impairment.
I would like to create a redesign that helps people from a diverse audience to visit and participate in the Gallery, through displaying content in a way that is informative, easy to find and accessible.
Today I have finished sketching some wireframes and a navigation map. I will be turning these into a design over the coming days and sharing the progress here.
Designer and Artist based in Melbourne, Australia.
I love researching stuff and making beautiful things.
On a journey to improve the world with both.