From a global audience to exhibitions in multiple languages, M WOODS posed a unique problem for us to solve. We drilled deeper to learn more about their design goals and crafted a solution that would meet their needs.
A global presence
Founded in 2014, M WOODS is an independent, not-for-profit art museum located in Beijing’s famed 798 art district. The museum features both international and Chinese art works, catering to the current youth of China. Recognizing the need to expand their online presence to a more global audience as well as improve their ability to manage content, M WOODS contacted Maples Design to redesign and build their website.
Online and offline design consistency
M WOODS came to us with 3 main problems: the design of their website, the ability to reach an international audience, and to be able to present their content in multiple languages. Each of these posed its own challenges during the design and development phases of the website.
The first goal was a redesign of the website that more closely matched the museum’s minimalistic theme. Hosted in a former munitions factory, the M WOODS museum uses vast open spaces and plain white walls to compliment the atmosphere. Following this vein, we used the clean Century Gothic font and abundant use of negative space to create a feeling of openness on the website. Also by simplifying the interface, the layout became easy to navigate and understand.
Climbing beyond the Great Wall
Another objective was to reach an international audience and allow the content to be accessible to both China and the rest of the world. The problem was finding a server that could do both well. Hosting on a server in China would make accessing the website from the rest of the world difficult. The opposite is also true, in that hosting on a server outside of China would make access from China hard. One idea was to host the website on multiple servers, one in China and one abroad. However, this would quickly become a maintenance nightmare, as any changes on the website for one server would need to be made on the other server.
After further discussions with M WOODS and investigation into their priorities, we learned that it was more important to serve the website to the international audience. As WeChat was more of the focus for reaching the Chinese population, the website was less important within China. With this in mind, we ended up selecting a server in Singapore to deliver the website quickly to the rest of the world while being reasonably close to load fairly fast within China.
Finally, to serve an international audience, we also needed to provide multiple languages. We settled on English and Chinese being the two main languages for the website and implemented a multilanguage functionality so that the museum website manager could provide content in both languages. A simple language switcher was also provided in the navigation to allow for seamless transition between English and Chinese.
Bringing China to the world
Beijing is a city full of rich history and culture. With an abundance of elements to tap into, there are so many wonderful things artists can do. Immersing themselves within this environment, M WOODS is working hard to bring China and the world closer together. They have recently expanded to a second location at Longfusi in the heart of Beijing’s Dongcheng district. As M WOODS continues to grow and build its community, we consider ourselves lucky to be a small part in supporting them.
Their team took the time not only to understand our ethos and priorities in full but also offer a range of creative solutions for the project which exceeded our expectations.Emma Law, Head of Program