A Cross-Platform UX/UI Enhancement

This is a hypothetical project

Expanding Their Audience

ROMAN SUSAN is an arts initiative primarily based out of the Rogers Park neighborhood in Chicago, IL. They’ve been around for eight years and recently attained Not For Profit status with the hope of further engaging and expanding their audience.  The goal of this project was to make their online presence more appealing and user friendly.

The folks at Roman Susan wanted to create a gallery that would confront some misconceptions about contemporary art.  Namely, that it's:


Contemporary art and artists are thought to be snobby or elitist. 


Contemporary art is difficult to understand or enter into without specialized  knowledge.


Contemporary art is a luxury that only the wealthy can have access to.

Location, Location, Location

Rogers Park is the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago.  It has more registered languages spoken there than any other neighborhood in America. Programing an arts space in an area like this requires a lot of consideration about inclusivity and provocation.  This has become especially important now that they're a not-for-profit.

Stakeholder Requirements

The Roman Susan Arts Organization has a number of requirements that they have to meet in order to secure funding.  I'll explain how my redesigns helped to highlight the efforts of those involved with the gallery to meet those requirements, while staying true to the founders aesthetic and ethical sensibilities.   "Honesty" and "clarity" were how the founders summed up the look they were going for.  They also wanted the website to be a "neutral wrapper" for what the artists provide.   
- Let's dive in!

Reorganizing the homepage

I wanted to pack as much information about their programming as I could while maintaining a clean, minimal feel.
This was their current homepage at 100% magnification.  There's no branding, and the navigation is in need of some help.  Things get weirder when you zoom out so that you can see the entire homepage on your screen.
This was their current homepage at 25% magnification.  The clustered images on the right side of the screen are buttons and links, though you wouldn't know it.  Even finding those buttons was a happy accident for most of the people I interviewed.

Initial Redesign

User research confirmed that an increasingly large number of patrons discover and engage with RomanSusan (and other galleries) through social media outlets before navigating to a more robust site.  Adding social media links was imperative.
A crucial part of the website redesign was the addition of a header to improve navigation, allow for searches, and introduce branding motifs.  Current exhibitions are the most important assets for the stakeholders.
Showcasing the current exhibitions was the most important feature for the stakeholders.  It's the first and biggest thing you see in the redesign, supplemented with important info like title, artist, date, and summary.
A primary goal was to make it as easy as possible for visitors to gather critical information (location, dates, hours, etc.) about RomanSusan events.  This feature was made to be modular, and takes a lot of cues from real estate web design.

Evidence of Ongoing Programing

Funding bodies look for evidence of past, current, and future events and extended exhibitions as justification for awarding money.  The more the organization has planned, the more money is potentially given. This is crucially important for the board in order to create a budget.  I tried to make it intuitive for visitors to look back through the exhibition history.

Evidence of Community Partnership/Expansion

The Roman Susan Arts Organization has expanded beyond its original gallery. There are four satellite spaces called "Roman Susan Annex" which can be found throughout the city of Chicago.  Getting any information about these spaces was a real chore on the old site.  Taking a cue from real estate sites, I designed the new one to give you critical information at a glance.


Ability to Donate to the Foundation

Money makes the world go 'round, or so they say.   Arts organizations are not immune to this fact, which is why they rely on donations to help pad out their yearly budgets.  This page makes it easy for anyone to contribute.  The founders of Roman Susan used to be quite reticent about soliciting donations, but have since found that people are happy to give and that it can even be therapeutic for some.
Here's an example of how a visitor would find information about an exhibition that happened in April of 2013.

Finalizing Hi-Fi Mockups


The biggest changes I made were focused around the map feature on the left of the page.  It's more clearly  labeled, for one thing, with a key explaining the difference between the main gallery space and the various offsite projects.  I made the currently selected pin on the  map easier to see, as well, and the information about the selected location is now a more eye-catching red color. Additionally, I made the footer white, to cohere with the rest of the page, and make the exhibition imagery the focal point.

Mobile Buildout

Market research and user interviews made it clear that a growing number of gallery visitors primarily use their mobile devices to keep informed about events and exhibitions.  While outlets like Twitter  and Instagram are used by Roman Susan to maintain visibility, a great mobile experience on their native site is imperative.  This mobile-specific design makes it fun and intuitive for visitors to interact  with the gallery.
See more examples below


Next Steps

Further Usability Testing: Continue to identify areas of improvement through testing

Developer Handoff: Fine tune UI elements and hand designs to the development team



© 2020 by Kit Rosenberg

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