ITMA – A Grand Time
STUDIO / DESIGNER
David Stanley (Lead Designer), Paula McEntee (Creative Director) and Aiden Grennelle (Designer)
Design Challenge and Design Ideas
ITMA holds the largest collection of Irish traditional music, song and dance in existence. They approached us to work with them on a new digital exhibition.
There were many challenges to be taken into consideration to make sure the end user has the best experience possible.
The first challenge was that this was the first exhibition in the series, so the platform and identity system had to be adaptable for future exhibitions. The exhibition included many different types and formats of materials, including manuscripts, images, sound and video, so we had to devise an effective way to sort and categorise them. Each item in the exhibition came with a vast amount of reference material and metadata, so the presentation of this all had to be considered so it didn’t distract from the item itself or disrupt the user experience, ensuring that the site is easy for users to navigate.
How the brief was fulfilled
We were aware of the challenge of presenting a volume of materials in a way that didn’t overwhelm the user, while also making sure that the user experience didn’t feel like a traditional archive. It had to be exciting and entice users to explore the site in a way that is unexpected.
We created a logo mark and visual language to live primarily on screen. The visual language is inspired by the counter forms within the ITMA logotype and is used as an dynamic device to house the imagery included in the exhibition. The colour palette is derived from the hues of the photography and changes when the site is loaded to keep the site feeling fresh. The main exhibition logotype is anchored by a silhouette of the island of Newfoundland which then doubles as a ‘home’ button on the site’s interior pages.
The use of parallax on desktop creates a depth that intertwines the narrative with the imagery, and flows into an interactive map that gives users context and a sense of place.
Navigation is key as was consistency across devices, so we adopted an ever present header that responds as needed as well as hamburger navigation.
This exhibition is rich with material so, we focused on type size and line length to ensure the reading experience isn’t laborious. This, combined with a conscious effort to intersperse elements like pull quotes throughout each page helps navigating the site.
To solve the variety of content categorisation, we assigned a block colour and icon to each item so they are recognisable as exhibition items but are distinguishable as different content types.
Every item included needed to be fully referenced. The sheer volume of credits and metadata that needed to be accommodated per item was vast and could become cumbersome from a users point of view. To solve this problem we housed each piece of metadata in a modal pop-up so the narrative of the text isn’t disrupted, but the information is accessible for anyone who needs more detail.
The use of lightboxes meant that we gave users quick access to navigate through exhibition items, a similar experience to browsing a traditional gallery. This makes for an experience that puts the user in control.