Discovery Place is an organization providing STEM education to the Carolinas through four museums and a comprehensive education program. Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature, Discovery Place Kids Huntersville and Discovery Place Kids Rockingham provide families rich, interactive educational experiences based on hands-on education.
Discovery Place is a non- profit organization that is committed to filling the community’s educational needs in science, technology and nature. Discovery Place operates through the generosity of donors and grants.
Discovery Place has been client of UNION since 2008 and when it was time to completely overhaul their web strategy, Discovery Place tapped UNION to help them reposition their brand in conjunction with their 70 year anniversary. UNION was tasked with creating a digital strategy based on Discovery Place’s new organizational structure and Ever Wonder campaign developed by Wray Ward.
Challenges & Objectives
There were multiple messages that are important to site visitors that needed to be organized into a clear strategy – museum information, community impact, how to donate / support, new museum structure, etc…
Increase Sales &
It was important to create clear call-to-actions for potential museum visitors, members and donors in order to increase sales and donations.
Discovery Place wanted to create a new way for potential visitors to explore what is available at each museum through the lens of their families’ ages and interests.
Due to the number of sites, development needs and overall brand design strategy, it was necessary for UNION to create a modular design strategy to create flexibility and scalability.
As the Discovery Place organization was going through a rebrand, their digital strategy needed to adjust as well. With different goals for the museums and the organization as a whole, it became clear that it was necessary to build a site for each museum location and one site for the overall organization.
The museum sites needed to focus on what is happening at the museum and give clear information to potential visitors - purchasing tickets, how to get to the museum and what to do when you get there. Each museum site needed to bring to life the museums themselves, but also make it clear that these museums were all part of the same family.
The Discovery Place organization website needed to educate the community on its overall mission - to help supplement the communities STEM educational needs - and that that mission is only possible through the generosity of donations, memberships and grants.
Increase Sales & Registration
Discovery Place needed an improved user experience for ticket purchasing and membership registration. UNION’s goal was to create a consistent set of call-to-actions to make the process easy for users as well as trackable for Discovery Place.
Discovery Place’s site users are increasingly visiting from mobile and ticket purchasing needed to be front and center. UNION pushed the required third-party ticketing integration to the limits to perform on mobile as well as provide analytics on conversions.
Visit Planning Resource
Each museum has over a hundred exhibits, labs, live shows, events, classes and programs. UNION created a way to explore all of these options through and interactive filtering system based on type of experience, ages, subject and dates. Site visitors can curate a visit based on their families’ needs as well as uncover activities from different areas of the site.
Discovery Place previously created paper daily schedules to give to visitors as they walked into the museum. UNION created a new online daily schedule that is automatically generated from the information entered for each event, exhibition, labs and live shows. It is easy to access from anywhere on the museum sites and is also prominently featured on mobile - allowing Discovery Place to direct visitors to just visit the site on mobile to view the daily schedule vs. receiving a print-out.
As the strategy for multiple sites and the need for content changes and additions developed, UNION developed a design strategy that was based on a system of elements that would be able to support multiple content types across pages and sites.
This system was built using modules and components that allowed efficiencies to be realized during development to allow for an on time launch as well as ongoing ease of content management for the client.
Wireframes / UX Strategy
UNION took Discovery Place through a comprehensive strategy phase to develop a set of sitemaps and wireframes that allowed for understanding of how each site should be positioned itself as well as in conjunction with each other.
Due to the fact that these platforms were being built in conjunction with a new brand strategy for Discovery Place which included potential new programs, UNION had to build a strategy that could account for many changes but would still be a clean and easy-to-use UX.
The sites' design is clean, flexible and built in a modular format to support various types of content. One of the playful aspects of the design is the inclusion of small bits of animation and interactivity to reflect the sense of wonder in Discovery Place.Discovery PlacePlan a VisitScheduleMuseum MapExploreIMAX Detail
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The messaging strategy required the museums to be presented as a family. The system allows for a similar design, but with the brand colors, images and copy changed, the feel of each site really reflects the museum.
Discovery Place challenged UNION to create a platform that gave them as much control as possible to edit and create new content within the site. Discovery Place wanted to have full control over every aspect of the site from page creation to image control.
UNION utilized Craft as the starting point to build a robust CMS that allows for a large amount of client control without sacrificing the level of design and interactivity on the site. The client can login to one place to control all five websites and has the ability to change items typically off-limits to clients such as navigation.
UNION and Discovery Place built the entire site strategy to be able to support such a high level of flexibility which now will allow them to maintain the site with minimal involvement from UNION moving forward.07 07
The result is a cohesive set of platforms unified under a clear brand strategy. The overall structure encourages the user to browse within and between sites through clear messaging and guidance which increases time spent and pages visited. The responsive design and repetition of simple and clear CTAs also boosts the user experience while driving ticket sales.30% Increase In Time On Site31% Decrease In Bounce Rate24% Increase in Online Ticket Sale Conversion Rate