We recently launched the Maine Indian Basketmakers Alliance (MIBA for short) new website. This group preserves the basketmaking traditions of the Maliseet, Micmac, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot tribes. They not only ensure the tradition continues through teaching basketmaking, they also provide economic opportunities for artists helping them market their products, supporting work being sold in galleries, and holding several annual markets that gather the artists together.

Their old website was three basic HTML pages that were difficult to make changes to. In order to best support MIBA, the website was reconstructed with a few things in mind.

First, the custom directory of artists allows visitors to either search for a specific artist (by name, location, basket style, and more), or browse artists by scrolling through the list. Each artist has a headshot and a biography, including their basketmaking techniques and artistic preference.  To avoid prioritizing one artist over another, the list automatically randomizes when the artist directory loads, giving equal exposure to all.

In addition to the directory, there is a more personal-get to ‘know’ the artist/who you’re supporting experience. This is done several ways including large format photos on information pages and a link to artist videos in the sidebar, where users can browse a collection of artist videos curated by the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine.

Artist_Directory

Like any non-profit organization, MIBA depends on donations from outside sources, so we added a feature that allows the site to accept donations via credit card. The donation page is a simple, straightforward form. In general, this makes the process easier for the donor (and hopefully, leads to more donations!). 

Navigating the MIBA site has become simple with the new layout. There are multiple ways to reach the various content on the site. For instance, the Markets page can be reached through the menu, the search bar, and in the featured section. Why is this important? By giving people multiple ways to get to MIBA’s most important information, people will easily find the information they’re looking for. When people have to jump through hoops to get the information they want from a site, they’ll most likely get frustrated and leave.

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Another trick that helps direct navigation is the three buttons on the sidebar of the website. These buttons have a couple benefits. First, since there are only three buttons to choose from, visitors aren’t overwhelmed with too many choices. Second, the images are small enough not to distract from the main page, but large enough for attention. These buttons, including ‘Where to Buy Baskets’ and ‘Donate’ direct website visitors to these important resources in a visual way.

And lastly, the entire site is designed responsively, meaning it looks great on any device, and loads in a little over 2 seconds. Through Google Analytics, we see over 140 people visited the new site the first day and we got this email from Theresa Secord, the executive director of the organization, the day after launch:

We are getting great reviews on our website and the announcement of the launch went viral on our FaceBook page…was viewed 5,802 times, shared 77 times!! and we gained nearly 100 new likes, putting us well over 1,000 friends for the MIBA FB page, from all over the world.

We congratulate Theresa, Jennifer, and all the MIBA board and artists on their new site!