Philadelphia Mural Arts

I was drawn to this site with its large high quality images that take up the entire top of the page. It seems very appropriate for a mural arts website to have huge photographs, but the transparent overlays and the content box headers just above the fold help bring it to the next level. The main nav is very obvious at the top of the page, and I really like the way it expands into different color drop downs that fill various shaped spaces below it. When the list items in the main nav are selected it brings up an entirely different page layout, which seems confusing at first with two additional navigational areas. I think the designers of this site understood that it was extremely layered and could get difficult to understand, as they included a trail back to the home page at the top of each content box. The footer also acts as an additional way to view various pages, bringing the count to 4 total navigation bars on some pages. Whew.

The architecture is obviously very structured and the content is very deep. You can definitely find any page at any time, as there are so many ways to navigate the content. The type seems to start the hierarchy, but I think it’s the color changes and various boxes and bars that really help designate what is important. I think the labeling is clear, but could be simplified even more. If it were up to me, I think I would also reduce the number of options for navigation, it is just too many options at some points.

As mentioned, the imagery is great, with big and bold photos really reflecting exactly what a mural is all about. I think its just about right, as too many more images would compete and leave the site feeling cluttered. The colors have been pushed to the limit, I think that even one more would have been too many, but the current selection works just fine. Its nice that each page has a different color, its just another way of letting the user know that the content has changed.

Overall the site seems to be very appropriate for the content, and has a great feel about it. The content seems almost overwhelming, however, with so many options for navigation. I’m not convinced that they are all entirely necessary, but the structure and grid system of the site keep it from being confusing.

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