How a small history museum (library and archive!) made their own history and redesigned their website

Greg Hansard, Virginia Historical Society, USA, Jennifer Nesossis, Virginia Historical Society, USA

In May 2012, the Virginia Historical Society (VHS) began a journey to redesign our website. The past VHS website served its purpose for more than ten years, but was beginning to show its age. The site was not responsive, small, confusing, and beige. The VHS website had grown to nearly 2,500 pages and important content was becoming hidden. The site structure didn’t make sense to users, the layout was confusing, and the graphics were small. We needed help!

Our presentation will explain how we took an outdated, cluttered, and unexciting historical society website and turned it into a clean, inviting, and attractive website. Through an intensive discovery phase we set out to update our organizational identity, web content, and our digital purpose. Our presentation is a case study of our 15-month redesign process. We will explain how we completed our project and kept the needs of the user as a top priority.

The presentation will explore the four different phases of our redesign and what it took to create an information architecture, wireframes, and design mock-ups. It will also look at how we moved from Dreamweaver to Drupal 7, and how staff felt about and handled the new change.

This session will be great for anyone thinking about (or in the process of) a website redesign. We will be able to share our experience—from the do’s and don’ts of such a project to the good, the bad, and the ugly of redesigning.

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