Request for Proposals: Enhancements to the Institutional Web Presence of the Walters Art Museum

1.    Introduction

The Walters Art Museum is soliciting proposals for enhancements to its primary website (thewalters.org). A new design for the website should align with current best practices for online accessibility and usability. The site’s content items and core functionalities need revision as well. In particular, we seek a mobile-responsive design.

The Walters has two other websites – the online collection and the digitized manuscripts.   The new thewalters.org design should not seek to mimic either of these websites and should surpass the quality of their design, while at the same time preserving the Walters brand identity.

This RFP outlines what the Walters hopes to achieve. It sketches some conceptual ideas for realizing the goals of this project. It invites creative responses that engage the museum’s principles of enjoyment, discovery, and learning. The museum values excellence, teamwork, and collaboration. We seek a creative partnership to complete this project. The primary goal of this project is to create a consistent, user-friendly, branded online experience, to better the museum’s online audience.

About the Museum

The Walters Art Museum opens its doors to anyone interested in fine art, world history, or diverse cultures. Housing an amazing range of art and artifacts—including such breathtaking treasures as Egyptian mummies, Renaissance suits of armor, Art Nouveau jewelry, and Old Master paintings—the Walters always offers something new to discover. Free of charge and centrally located in downtown Baltimore, the Walters is an accessible and enjoyable destination at which to spend time with friends and family.

2.    Phased Approach

As part of a recent digital strategy project, the Walters Art Museum has identified priorities for its institutional web presence. These are divided into two phases.

First, the museum seeks to deploy a new design for its existing website (thewalters.org), while focusing on revising some of its core content. The goal of this phase is to create a bold, new impression via the website as quickly as possible.

In the second phase, the museum seeks to improve the underlying technical infrastructure of the website, while retaining the new design and addressing the remaining content that was not revised or created in the first phase.

Within each of these phases there are milestones that are envisioned in terms of their priority and scope, so that some items could be completed quickly, while more difficult items could happen during a later iteration.

We seek proposals that model the phased approach outlined below. Please structure your proposal in a similarly phased and itemized manner. We are open to suggestions about the sequence of the deliverables below, but we do consider these deliverables to be critical.

Phase One

The following are items we wish to accomplish in the first phase of this project.

Design and Presentation

  1. A branded, consistent and mobile-accessible interface for the website that can be used before, during, or after a museum experience. The design should visually emphasize the museum’s collection, setting, and visitor experience. The design should be responsive to mobile technologies.
  2. A new information architecture and navigation for the site, with prominent features to introduce the museum’s other websites, such as the mobile guide, the online collection, the blog, the digitized manuscripts, the museum’s social media presence, and news.

 

For its flagship print publication, the members’ magazine of the Walters Art Museum, the museum has reorganized sections of the content as follows:

  • Welcome message
  • Visit
  • Collections
  • Exhibitions and Installations
  • Members and Donors
  • Gifts and Gatherings
  • News
  • Calendar
  • Store and Café

We envision that a new organization of the website’s content could be similar to, or informed by, this outline.

  1. C) Templates for 5–7 key types of pages within the site, for example:
  • A new home page
  • A landing page
  • A content/article page
  • An event page
  • A calendar page
  • A transaction page
  • 3 templates for e-mail marketing:
  • A newsletter
  • A postcard/invitation
  • A letter

Content and Key Messages

As the project begins, the museum will provide a set of key messages that the revised website should communicate most effectively. These may be messages that are online already, or they may need to be added with new content. Photography and media should be considered an important component of the content for these messages. For each of the key messages we intend to create, revise, or reorganize content for the website, as needed, in order to improve the message. During phase one, this content would need to be published using the museum’s existing content management system.

By the end of this phase, the Walters’ goal is to have redesigned the templates in use by every page on the site, resulting in a clearer and mobile-responsive user experience, along with fresh and lively content in the most important parts of the site.

Phase Two

The following items are envisioned to take more time and effort than those in Phase One.

Functionality and User Experience

The museum seeks to deploy new system(s) for ticketing, membership, donation, and e-commerce used by online customers and by management staff. Front-end planning needs assessment and user surveys will be needed to ensure that the transaction process is intuitive, friendly and useful for customers and staff alike.

The site is currently managed via an older, proprietary content management system. The museum intends to replace this CMS with WordPress, which has been chosen for its flexibility, ubiquity, and openness. Core functionalities will also need to be implemented for the events calendar, ticketing, member registration and renewal, and store transactions. Ideally, these functionalities would be able to communicate with the museum’s fundraising software, Raiser’s Edge. These should also provide the best possible user experience.

Content and Key Messages

In the previous phase, the most important content would have been revised. In this phase, any remaining content should be edited for clarity, SEO, and consistency. Much of the content may need to be removed. Other content may need to be combined or added.

Additionally, content migration from the old CMS to the new one will be required.

Design and Presentation

In the second phase, the new CMS should employ the same set of page templates and homepage, etc., that were launched during the first phase.

By the end of this second phase, the website should have a new set of technologies to power it, and the bulk of its content should be revised.

3.    Technical Specifications

The Walters Art Museum web site at http://thewalters.org is hosted remotely on a Windows 2008 Server (Standard Edition) using IIS v7. The database is hosted on Microsoft SQL Server 2005 (Standard Edition). Its pages and proprietary CMS are scripted in ASP.NET, VB.NET and C#.

The museum also hosts a development server with identical specifications.

During the first phase of this project, we do not plan to move the site to a new server. Ideally, during the second phase, the site would move to a server that is suitable for WordPress.

4.    Time Table

Please suggest a timeline that is cost effective, describes deliverables, allows for iterative revision, and will yield the best result. In your proposal, please include milestones for key meetings, design/prototype review, usability testing, content review, technical testing, and other points as appropriate.

5.    Budget

When describing the budget for your proposal, please itemize the major budget components using the phases and steps outlined above. Please indicate pricing for features in a way that can be added or removed from the project budget if needed.

6.    Evaluation

In your proposal, please discuss how progress will be evaluated throughout, and at the end of, the project.

7.    Teamwork

In your proposal, please explain how you plan to collaborate with key stakeholders at the Walters Art Museum. Describe how you prefer to work with us to obtain necessary information, assets, and input. Please also explain how your process will allow for iterative or versioned input leading toward a finished product. How would you prefer to work with the museum’s design team to ensure that the final design aligns with the museum’s larger graphic identity?

8.    References

In your proposal, please provide a minimum of 3 references to illustrate your experience with similar projects.

9.    Next Steps

Your proposal should be sent in PDF format to Dylan Kinnett, Manager of Web and Social Media Initiatives at waltersweb@thewalters.org. The Walters Art Museum will consider proposals received on or before April 7, 2017.

On May 1, the museum will notify respondents of the selection process.

Note: Neither the issuance of this RFP nor the receipt of responses thereto obliges the Walters Art Museum to procure any of the proposed services in whole or in part now or at any time in the future, nor is such procurement, should it occur, necessarily restricted to respondents to this RFP.