Five Web Design Steals came from my daily Feedly check. Feedly, essentially a beautiful RSS reader, helps curate content faster, better, and stronger. Today Feedly drove me past the Communication Arts summary of┬áChrysler.org’s new web design.

Here’s part of the creative brief shared as a “Web Pick” on┬áCommarts.com.

Background
The Chrysler Museum of Art is a world-class art museum located in Norfolk, Virginia. Though the museum has a collection of more than 30,000 works, an amazing glass art studio and a full calendar of class and events, the old site did little to showcase everything it offers.

Highlights
One of our main goals was to make the museum feel as warm and welcoming online as it does in person. For many people, art museums can be intimidating and overwhelming.

Challenges
The Chrysler Museum of Art has a sprawling collection, a rich history, and several classes and events available almost every day. Our biggest challenges were organizing all the content, making it feel accessible and welcoming and reducing the intimidation factor inherent in so many museum experiences.
(emphasis mine)

Five Web Design Steals
Here are five web design ideas you should steal from the new Chrysler.org site.

Hero with subtle, effective Calls To Actions (CTAs).
Color as warmth and invitation.
Whitespace to lower intimidation and encourage interaction.
Teases promoting clicks and control.
Storytelling with text, images, and testimonials.

Web Design Steal – Subtle CTAs
Is it astonishing a museum’s redesigned website is better at Calls To Actions than many e-commerce sites? Not if you read the brief. Like all museums, the Chrysler has an overwhelming about of STUFF. Their website could drown in content.

The new Chrysler.org site uses a slider with great CTAs. Placement and wording are what makes a CTA “great.” The main hero, the statue, looks at links. Since visitor eyes will follow hers, I’m betting those links are the most clicked on.

However, the Explore Wonder Studio CTA doesn’t get lost in the sauce. In fact, all main CTAs located bottom left. We read left to right. Great placement. CTA wording is well done too with action verbs such as “explore” and “see.”

See is a powerful verb especially online. The combination of “see” and “explore” creates mystery without confusion, excitement without fear, and engagement without anxiety. We want to learn and be better always and forever these days, and Chrysler.org’s CTAs feed those desires.

Five Web Design Steals – Color
Visitors have with the assumption museums should know about color. Chrysler.org doesn’t disappoint, but they don’t overwhelm either. Color is used as warmth, accent, and guide. Remove the whitespace, our next web design steal, and Chrysler’s colors could clash, fight and create confusion.

Since clarity, not confusion was the mandate using duotones and modern colors surrounded by whitespace creates shared control. They, the Chrysler Museum, and you are on a journey with easy to find and understand markers and guides. You won’t find a better use of color as brand support or color as a message that the new Chrysler.org.

Five Web Design Steals – Whitespace
As a recovering visual artist, I studied painting at Vassar, I know how vexing whitespace is on a website. You’ve got them. They are on your site. And the tendency is to throw the kitchen sink at visitors in the hope they’ll sort out something to click on, something to care about.

Hoping visitors will organize your website never works. Worse, the confusion you create by NOT BEING CLEAR about what you want visitors to do creates confusion and dissonance. Do less and surround what you do with offset – with whitespace.

Whitespace helps to create clear paths. While studying at Vassar groundskeepers tried to stop students from cutting across the hard to care for grass. Their attempt failed. They smartened up by using the real world equivalent of online whitespace – they put the pebbles where students were cutting trails.

Chrysler.org does both. They use whitespace, color, images, and text to create paths. But they also leave enough whitespace nothing feels overly organized or forced. They let their students (visitors) define paths too.

Five Web Design Steals – Teasing Clicks
Chrysler.org’s resistance to everything and the kitchen sink marketing in favor of teasing clicks is our favorite pet peeve. Many Curagami clients insist more is better. Read The Paradox of Choice by Schwartz to understand why less often gets more.

If you want more engagement, clicks, and shares organizing your content, so visitors discover, explore, and digest your site’s content a little at a time wins hearts and minds. Websites are artificial environments like a stage.

We’ve designed the set and know what we want our audience (visitors) to do, experience, and enjoy. Like a play, websites unfold.

Unlike a play websites unfold because of actions your audience take – they click. Chrysler.org is organized around the 80:20 Rule – 80% of clicks will go to 20% of their links. Do you know your 80:20 Rule?

Great Chrylser.org teases:

“Demos, talks, performances, classes and more…”
“Read our story” CTA next to Warhol image.
The Warhol eating image itself is a great tease since we want to know more.
An encyclopedic collection, family-friendly events, and more.

Five Web Design Steals – Tell Stories
In addition to knowing about color, we expect museums to tell stories. Chrysler.org doesn’t disappoint. And they tell stories in several ways.

Storytelling with pictures (see the Warhol candid).
Copy helps tease stories (see the Warhol AboutUs tease next to the strange photo).
Testimonials are great stories to lower intimidation and create relationships.
Children demand attention from our dinosaur brains, so they make great models especially the little boy pointing at the wall.
Ordered lists such as the 3 CTAs on the right of the hero.
Navigation and they use two kinds – universal (at the top) and indexed or page specific (the ordered list on the right of the hero).
By managing color and telling great stories with images, copy and testimonials Chrysler.org does what we expect a museum to do. And they do it better than most museum sites because they remain true to goals defined in their brief.

Well done Chrysler.org for creating five web design must steal from a somewhat unlikely source.