Deep inside the stacks at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts lies the archives of the prolific avant-garde composer John Cage. As part of the worldwide celebration of Cage's 100th birthday, the curator of the collection requested a website that would allow the world to experience the The John Cage collection.
When I started at NYPL, the project was already underway but not going so well. The designer who had been contracted for the project was not living up to the departments standards. We decided to make a fresh start of it. I conducted qualitative research to learn what users really wanted out of the site. As Cage's manuscripts can be very daunting to understand, the research also showed a strong desire to see musicians perform Cage's pieces in order to gain context of how to play them. The team had already planned to produce several high quality videos with musicians we had partnered with for the project, but this insight led to making the site itself a repository for videos of Cage's work. This allowed users to not only see the manuscripts but also experience the interpretations of his work plus allowed the users to post their own.
I then worked closely with our new designer to create a immersive visual experience that encompassed my usage research. I decided to use Cage's hand drawn lines as the guiding element to drive users browse through the infinite scrolling site. We also included robust search ability for those who working on a particular task.