The Bucks County Artist Database is a unique and valuable resource for our region. The platform is home to a showcase of over 400 artists from the region referred to as the Genius Belt.
When the Michener Art Museum approached us to help improve the application, we were delighted to help. We quickly pulled our creative and technical resources together and set to work. We conducted a major audit of the current application to better understand the architectural and usability challenges that the project faced.
The new and improved Bucks County Artist Database
We worked alongside the team at the Michener to identify past challenges, opportunities for optimization, short and long term goals, and a sense of how the platform might grow over time. Through our audit, we also helped identify issues impacting usability, accessibility, data structure, and application performance.
As we dug further into the project it quickly became clear that it was time for a rebuild. We set a series of goals as we began planning our next steps.
- Provide a modern, robust, and simple to use content management system
- Restructure the database to improve the long term viability and stability of the platform
- Improve overall performance and accessibility
- Redesign the interface to improve usability across all screen sizes
- Build a scalable solution that can more easily adapt to future changes and growth plans
- Improve the search performance and enable content sharing integrations with the museum's other web platforms
The New BCAD
Over the course of three months, the MYD team worked through a series of task-oriented sprints to rearchitect, design, and build the new and improved BCAD. The team at the Michener provided valuable insights and feedback throughout the entire process. As we wrapped up the development of the new application the museum pulled together a team of staff and volunteers to complete a major content clean up effort.
As we started to reimagine the BCAD platform we did a deep dive into the data structure. The current application had a complicated and disorganized database that relied on a series of factors to associate related content. We designed a new architecture for the application's data to improve the usability and overall structure. With a custom python script we were able to intelligently port the data from the legacy system to our new and refined database, removing dozens of hours of manual data migrations and clean up.
As we approach many of our projects, we began by establishing a visual system to guide our design process. Having worked alongside the Michener team for several years we wanted to ensure the new design would align to the museum's current design and brand standards while creating a distinct structure that would support the requirements of the BCAD platform. The entire interface was designed to optimize usability and to implement a responsive layout that would scale to all screen sizes.
Combining our streamlined data structure with the beautiful Craft CMS was the perfect match to lead to a powerful authoring system. Using best practices we have learned over 8 years of working with Craft, we were able to create a robust and easy to use platform for the museum staff to manage. Their ability to manage content across the platform has never been easier or more accessible. The end result also provided a significantly more organized structure that can more easily adapt and grow over time. With the bonus of a graphQL integration, we are easily able to make BCAD data available to other web properties.
A Ground-up Rebuild
Empowered with a beautiful design system, a powerful backend, and refined data, we set our sights on building the interface that would showcase BCAD to the public. Our team worked together to develop a performant and user-friendly experience that is modularly structured to grow and thrive over time. Every detail and function of the site was designed to align to direct feedback, goals, and brand strategies that came from our initial project reviews with the museum.
Now live and available to the public, we're proud to present the new and improved BCAD. We are excited to see how the platform will grow in the future, knowing it has a fantastic foundation to stand on.