The Van Gogh Museum has the largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh in the world and is the primary knowledge centre for Vincent van Gogh. The Van Gogh Museum has had a website since 1999, with its successor going live in 2006. In 2014, it was time for a redesign, as the former site no longer reflected the museum’s current brand identity and the museum’s mission, and was becoming outdated in terms of functionalities, content and technology.
In the autumn of 2013, we started our preparations for the new site, which was launched in August 2014. The goal was to design a site that communicates the mission of the Van Gogh Museum, which is to make the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and the art of his time accessible to as many people as possible in order to enrich and inspire them.
Every year, the Van Gogh Museum attracts around 1.5 million visitors, 85% of whom come from abroad. This is reflected in the website analytics: English is the most common language setting, followed by Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, French, German and Spanish. For many international visitors, a visit to the museum is on their bucket list.
In the Netherlands, the Van Gogh Museum is regarded as a tourist museum. One of the challenges is therefore to (re)introduce Dutch residents to Vincent van Gogh and create a connection between them and the museum.
Strong focus: Visit the museum and Meet Vincent
Our analytics showed that most website visitors come to the site to plan a visit, or are looking for information about Vincent van Gogh and want to view his works.
The new site therefore has a strong focus: top tasks focused on preparing the visitor as fast and as efficiently as possible for a museum visit, along with storytelling about Vincent van Gogh. The homepage is divided into a facilitative section (‘Visit the museum’) and an inspiring section (‘Meet Vincent’).
Storytelling: Meet Vincent
In the stories, the information that we know about Vincent van Gogh from past and present research is made accessible in a visual and intuitive way.
These are stories that surprise you, stories that touch you, stories that teach you things about the artist that you didn’t know before.
Each story for ‘Meet Vincent’ has been specially written and designed, offering new approaches to the work of Vincent and his contemporaries. The visitor can browse briefly through the interactive stories, or wander almost endlessly through all the side paths and related works of art. The stories take you into the world of Vincent Van Gogh, his time, his search for the very highest, and his victories and disappointments.
Online and onsite
The themes of the stories are also highlighted in the museum. For example: Van Gogh’s search for colour and his personal interpretation of nature are given a prominent place in the museum.
Online and onsite, visitors get a new view of an artist they thought they knew.
Visitors to the website and followers on social media have helped decide what the themes of the stories will be in the coming period. Some of the themes to be developed include: what inspired Van Gogh, how did he inspire other artists and what are the myths surrounding Van Gogh?
The site design now reflects the corporate design that was launched in 2011: not only with respect to the font and the use of colour, but we have also developed new guidelines for texts and photography. We have had new photos taken for the site: photos of visitors in the museum and during activities. These photos also reflect the museum’s brand identity.
The new site is responsive. The website has been designed tablet-first, with large operating elements and big, highly legible text. But the website is also responsive with regard to location. Visitors to the museum who use the WiFi network in the museum see a different homepage than when they are outside the museum.
Collection images: full screen, zoom in and shareable
The collection is now widely accessible, with full screen images with a zoom function, the images can also be downloaded and shared on social media.
Collection works are also integrated into the stories. The stories enable visitors to enter, browse and learn about the collection.
After six months, we see the following results, compared with the same period last year.
- Page views increased by 51.6%
- Number of pages per session increased by 46%
- Average session duration increased by 24%
- Returning visitors increased by 21%
- Bounce rate decreased by 24.9%
- Traffic from social channels increased by 93%