toronto biennial of art 

The Toronto Biennial of Art is a contemporary visual arts event that showcases 72 days of exhibitions, talks and performances to inspire conversation, bring communities together and celebrate artists on a local, national and international level. As the first event of its kind, they needed a digital experience created from scratch to represent the Biennial, galvanize the city and guide visitors through every facet of the event.

Our team at Art & Science had three months to build a website for the first ever Toronto Biennial in time for their launch in September. I led discovery and UX, and worked with clients and our internal teams to communicate strategy, experience design and functionality.research and strategy 

I led a discovery workshop with the client that included executives, marketing contributors and curators to better understand festival goals, anticipated challenges and how we are measuring success. I created a UX blueprint to document a shared vision for the project.

Our strategy was to treat the website as both a product and a service. The Biennial strives to make contemporary art available to everyone. From a product perspective, to echo their standard for inclusion, we designed the website to act as a digital reflection of the event, bringing the in-person experience to a remote audience. To encompass the 72 days of the Biennial, all artworks and artists are catalogued with sharp visuals alongside the rich details of their work. We identified a service requirement for the site—spanning 72 days and the entire region of Toronto, we wanted the site to function as a tool to guide visitors through the event and all its layers.

information architecture 

I created a site map that illustrated the structure of information and content for the proposed site, taking into consideration different sections such as creative partnerships, visitor information, exhibition sites and artist biographies. I then used that as a guide to create an intuitive navigation for desktop and mobile, keeping in mind the need to find information quickly and easily.

features and functionalities

  • Each exhibition on the website is tied to an interactive map that pinpoints its location, opens directions on your device’s native map, outlines the accessibility of the venue, and describes how to get there via car and public transit (you can even find a guide to the TTC for those not from the 6ix!)
  • We built a custom calendar that can be used to preview the happenings of each day, filter exhibitions to find what you’re most interested in and sync events directly to a Google Calendar. Knowing that visitors would likely be using the website while walking the grounds of an exhibition, we gave extra love to the mobile experience for both Android and iOS.
  • We created a data model and user experience that allowed us to associate a single artist with multiple project and events. The following user flows illustrate this. 

Wireframes

I went through two round of wireframes, presenting to the internal team as well as clients for feedback. The final process was to create developer annotations to communicate functionality and prepare a handoff. I worked with both the visual designer and developer to ensure final product is in line with the overall strategy and experience outlined at the beginning of the project.

Results and next steps 

The result was a fully responsive website that amplifies the event’s reach, echoes the Biennial’s values and extends the conversation of art and culture to the digital realm.

  • Website drew in 77,587 visitors during the event
  • 80% of visitors engaged with multiple pages
  • Site load speeds reduced by 5 seconds

We received endless positive feedback from users in regards to the tight design and user-friendly aspects of the site. Monthly traffic on the site, which functioned smoothly, exceeded initial expectations. The online presence generated a significant amount of positive feedback. A professional group, the vendor excelled at navigating challenges with a calm, focused mindset.” – Client