Noble Studios built a website, including an editable calendar and registration form, to boost a museum's web traffic. They also performed audience analysis through interviews and Google Analytics.
The new site is polished and navigable, resulting in lower bounce rates and longer session lengths. Its functionality dramatically reduced staff labor by automating registration processes and facilitating easy editing. Noble Studios was always available to answer questions and share expertise.
"They're always great about recommendations for ways we can improve."
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I am the vice president of marketing and communications at Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum, a hands-on science center located in Reno, Nevada. We opened to the public in September 2011 and we see about 180,000 visitors a year. We have a large collection of permanent exhibitions and we house about one temporary exhibition a year.
What challenge were you trying to address with Noble Studios?
We needed Noble to redevelop our existing website.
What was the scope of their involvement?
They developed a completely new website for the museum. Their work also included strategic planning, which was helpful. Through the course of the strategic planning, we had some interesting realizations about the market that we serve and where we attract our audience from. We have insight into that through demographics that we can collect at the museum, but they were able to confirm some of that information and then add on to that with a deep dive into the analytics of our current site relative to web traffic.
The regimented process started with interviews with key strategic staff on their end. Some meetings were done at the museum and some were done in their offices, which are a couple of blocks from us. After spending time gathering information and planning, they presented us with a couple of proposed designs for the site in PDF. We melded the two designs and ended up with something they are proud of. The site is visually appealing, functions well, and is very easy for us to maintain. Our visitors and members have given the site positive feedback; the site is easy to use and simple to navigate.
One of the key features that we had them incorporate into the site was a robust calendar. We do a lot of daily programming at the museum for visitors. Because of the hours of the museum, the programming fluctuates from day to day. We needed a back end function for our calendar that would allow us to make changes and add events without adding a lot of labor. Our previous site was coded in HTML, so any changes we wanted to make required us to go in and hand-code the calendar page to add entries. We wanted the calendar to be able to set up reoccurring events, and that was something they were able to do for us.
They were able to integrate our Google Analytics from our previous site into our new site so that we can keep that data. We use a third party point of sale system at the museum and we are able to add external links to our site for event ticket sales. They set up an integration with Gravity Forms, allowing us to do registration forms for our camp program or membership sales on the website, which is a seamless system for us.
After we launched the site and that one-year grant program was done, we stayed on with them on a monthly retainer basis. The site runs itself with us managing content through the backend. The monthly retainer lets them keep plug ins and WordPress up to date. Occasionally, we'll run across a feature that we would like to include in the site or a tweak that we want to make to the design. When we do, we reach out and cover that with the retainer hours.
What is the team dynamic?
We have worked with between 10 and 12 people on their staff, including an account person that we interfaced with, the programmers, and the designers.
How did you come to work with Noble Studios?
We had started conversations with a couple of other firms and realized that our project was going to cost more than our non-profit budget could afford. We found Noble because they run a project called Noble Deeds that accepts applications once a year from local nonprofits for a development project. Their internal committee reviews the applications and chooses one worthy non-profit each year. In the year that we were chosen, we were the sole beneficiary. We were excited because we knew that we would end up with a robust web presence through the grant process.
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
We saw a decline in bounce rate on the new site versus the old site, and we have seen individual user sessions grow in length by about a minute and a half.
We see about 1,000 campers per year at the museum, and previously, we had a PDF-dependent registration process. We were able to move that entire registration process onto the website using the Gravity Forms integration that Noble created for us. 100% of the registration process is done via the site now, making it completely paperless and a huge labor saver.
How did Noble Studios perform from a project management standpoint?
We had regular check in meetings every other week. The meetings usually included a well-sized cross-section of their staff so that if there were technical questions, we could ask a programmer directly, and if there was an interpretation issue between us and the developers, we could ask an account executive.
What did you find most impressive about them?
The biggest surprise was the strategic findings they made during the discovery process of the project. A lot of the demographic information that they discovered through our analytics were real eye openers for us, and we were able to use that information to influence the campaigns that we do for traveling exhibitions.
Are there any areas they could improve?
No, not really. We have been pleased with everything that they have done for us. They are a great resource for us. They're always great about recommendations for ways we can improve the way that we maintain the site, increase user sessions, and decrease bounce rates.