Speedy museum website is a design delight

The Wellcome Collection's website works quickly even on slow mobile connections. Find out how it was made here.

London’s Wellcome Collection is one of the top picks in our Designers' Guide to London. A museum of medical artefacts and artworks, it calls itself 'the free destination for the incurably curious' – and its new, responsive website has the same attitude.

Developed by the Collection's in-house team, the site promotes installations, events and publications, along with some exclusive digital content, including games.

The site is built on Drupal, which led to some challenges. Developer Gareth Estchild says, "Drupal is a bit notorious for getting it to spit out what you want. The backend developers replicated the code from our HTML templates, which means we’ve been able to achieve good semantic markup."

Quick to load

The layout relies heavily on JavaScript: jQuery, jQuery UI and the AmplifyJS components library are in place to generate the common page elements, while Masonry is used to lay out the flexible grid.

Performance and findability were obviously foremost considerations in building the site: it's very quick to load even on low-bandwidth mobile data connections, and key information such as the address and gallery visiting times are present on every page.

UX designer Eleanor Ratliff adds, "Simple little things, like flagging clearly on the listing pages when an event is fully booked, address some big user frustrations."

Words: Peter Gasston

Peter Gasston is a veteran web developer who now works as a technologist and frontend lead at rehabstudio. He’s the author of The Book of CSS3 and The Modern Web.

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