A Website Overhaul for the Nation’s Premier Historical Site [Case Study]
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage — historic home and 1,120-acre plantation of the former president in Nashville, TN — has welcomed over 15 million visitors from across the globe. Through careful preservation and educational as well as entertaining programming, The Hermitage’s goal is to preserve a pivotal period in American history while educating the public about the fascinating, and often controversial, life of Andrew Jackson. With a new $1.1 million exhibit opening in January 2015 and a visual rebranding underway, the marketing and leadership teams at The Hermitage recognized the need for an upgraded and revamped online presence to propel Andrew Jackson into the digital age.
The Hermitage is considered by many historians to be the most well-preserved early presidential home, and it sits on a sprawling farm complete with beautiful gardens and secluded hiking trails. The Hermitage agreed that the quality of the online experience did not accurately reflect the quality of the in-person experience.
Because the new exhibit was launching in a few short months, there would be quite a bit of attention on The Hermitage locally and industry-wide. Additionally, a revamped logo and visual brand were nearly complete. It was imperative that the online identity be overhauled to match this new brand and handle the upcoming traffic.
The site used a variety of third-party tools that made website management difficult for administrators. The site also had limited flexibility, preventing admin from easily updating information or adding content. This difficulty contributed to the site becoming disjointed and disorganized, compromising the experience for both users and admin.
One of the most significant issues was the lack of mobile functionality. With mobile usage growing steadily, it was imperative that the site be responsive. Search engine performance and social engagement were also areas for improvement.
We laid out a defined process and firm timeline to ensure that all of The Hermitage’s goals would be met and the project would be completed on time. Our plan of attack included:
- A strategy session to continue to develop our understanding and define the needs of the project.
- Designing for skimmers, swimmer and divers.
- Building an intuitive information architecture and navigation system.
- Designing for the past, present and future.
- A scalable, flexible infrastructure.
- An improved mobile experience.
- A simplified administration process.
- Identifying and executing improvements to the online ticket purchasing process and online store.
- Content optimization for search engines.
With the unveiling of the new museum exhibit in January 2015 and The Hermitage’s public relations efforts, the site received significant media attention at the beginning of the year. It has also performed well in regard to the initial goals that were established.
- The site reached its goal of 50,000 sessions in one month in March 2015.
- The site originally saw about 90,000 pageviews each month. After the redesign, beginning in March 2015, the site averages over 126,000 pageviews each month, a 40% increase.
- After a month of the site being live, sales from the online store were 200% above average.
Chris Rydburg, Information Specialist and our primary contact at The Hermitage, had this to say about the experience working together:
“The team at Landslide Creative was an absolute pleasure to work with. Their dedication to our project was above and beyond their call of duty and the Andrew Jackson Foundation’s new website was absolutely pristine at the time of launch. They were the only organization to take the time to visit our location prior to our interview with them, demonstrating a deep commitment to their customers as more than just a dollar amount. It was a personal touch that you don’t see much anymore and really left the nicest of impressions on our staff.
“The main goal of our project was to redesign the entire website to mirror our new exhibit, both in design, structure and atmosphere. Landslide did a beautiful job communicating with us and ensuring that the project reflected the exhibit. They were able to distill extremely complex concepts and content into bite sized chunks for the user, something that our previous website was incapable of doing at any level.
“I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to build or refresh a website. Exceptional people doing exceptional things.”
Looking for More?
This project with the Hermitage presented many challenges: a large, complex site map, a variety of target audiences, conflicting internal needs and requests, and significant goals. Despite these challenges, Landslide Creative and The Hermitage leadership and marketing teams were determined to create a final product that would capture and share Andrew Jackson’s vibrant personality and substantial contribution to our nation’s history.
Experience the website we created for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage yourself at thehermitage.com.
You can also download the complete case study here.