Redesigned website navigation for the Santa Cruz MAH

I recently redesigned the top-navigation of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History’s website. Working closely with Museum staff, I simplified the nav and introduced a modern, mobile-responsive interface pattern.

MAH Navigation
The Santa Cruz MAH’s redesigned website navigation

The MAH is about engagement. The Museum is fulfilling its mission when it’s “bringing people together around art and history.” The seed of this navigation change began with a conversation about opportunities to better accomplish that mission using the website.

The design at that time included seven top-level links — Calendar, Exhibitions, Learn, Get Involved, Rent the MAH, Blog and About. We realized that this fairly typical collection of links didn’t signal to visitors how central getting involved was to the MAH experience.

Now, by reducing that down to three — See & Do, Get Involved and About — we’re more clearly communicating to visitors the Museum’s character and priorities.

Also, the web has changed since the site’s last redesign. Mobile apps and responsive web design have introduced a slew of new interaction patterns. While the site has not yet been converted to responsive (a project that’s currently in-progress), we used a mobile-inspired interaction pattern for the second-level links.

MAH Navigation, Opened
In the new design, “drop-downs” fill the screen

Whereas the old design used a drop-down style commonly cribbed from desktop menus, for this design clicking/tapping each of the top-level items triggers a full-screen shade.

And rather than listing the second-level links horizontally, we’ve stacked them vertically. This reduces line-length-imposed character limitations, allowing the Museum the flexibility to include as many items as they need in each shade, each with as many words as is needed for effective communication.

Project team

  • Marty Spellerberg, Designer/Developer for Spellerberg Associates
  • Elise Granata, Marketing & Engagement Coordinator for the Santa Cruz MAH

Posted April 2015

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