There are dozens of reasons why any business should have a premier website – brand awareness, marketing, visibility, credibility, sales and the list goes on. For most companies, a website is a place to “connect” with a potential customer, have them “consider” their product, and ultimately “convert” a purchase.

How successful a website is at optimizing these “3 Cs” depends on a number of key and important factors, including how visually aesthetically is the website, how engaging is the content, how easy is it to navigate, and is it fast.

A website’s ability to enhance a business relies heavily on its design – how it looks, or the front end, and how well it operates, or the back end. Both must work in perfect harmony if it’s to have the best chance of cutting through the noise of competitor websites.

Sounds easy, right?!

After more than a year of development, Midway launched its updated and refreshed website with not only the goal of maximizing the “3 Cs,” but, as a non-profit museum, informing visitors to the site of its educational significance as well as how the museum has become an integral part of the San Diego community.

“Our website is a giant picture window into the soul of the museum,” said David Koontz, Midway’s marketing director. “We wanted the updated website to present Midway as it truly is, an incredibly interactive and unique experience that is engaging, inspiring, educational and fun. It was important to us that the agency we selected for this project didn’t just understand Midway as a brand, but what it signifies as America’s Living Symbol of Freedom.”

After an extensive search and the review nearly of a dozen proposals, Midway ultimately turned to Departure, a multidisciplinary marketing and creative agency based in San Diego.

“Our clients range from pharmaceuticals, life sciences and medical devices to pizza chains and wine makers,” said Emily Rex, co-founder of Departure. “Very few, however, carry the halo of national and historical significance that the Midway does. To touch something like that, and to think for one moment that what you do may carry forward into history, is truly a once-in-a-lifetime feeling.”

While the response to Midway’s previous website was consistently positive, the new design ensures Midway’s site is not only a creative trendsetter, but fully functional and upgradeable  well into the future. The new site also eliminates the behind-the-scenes issues that progressively plagued the old website.

“The new website not only provides Midway with a much-needed digital facelift, but with the newly redesigned back end, will be more stable technically and give more power to our inhouse web administrators and designers to modify and keep our content fresh and relevant,” said Shawn Granen, Midway’s director of IT. “The modernization will provide a more seamless browsing experience for our guests.”

The effort included the creative redesign of the website’s homepage, as well as the hundreds of various landing pages within the site. It also involved a minor branding refresh that appropriately emphasizes the interactive and engaging nature of the Midway experience. The new website also has an improved content management system that will better support modern web framework, making it easier to coordinate content creation and publishing workflows. The project even included an extensive multi-day photo shoot to develop new images and video that has invigorated the consumer-facing appearance of the website.

The complexities were immense and Departure’s web developers spent hundreds of hours building the new site.

“Ensuring that every element aligned with the expectations while also adhering to industry standards and best practices required careful coordination and meticulous attention to detail,” said Leslie Ribbler, Departure’s project manager for the development of the new website. “The USS Midway Museum is such a historic icon and a beloved San Diego destination, it is an honor to be part of its future.”

As with the launch of any new website, there will always be a break-in period to work out any issues that arise. However, the new site has set a new standard to take Midway well into the future and provide an outstanding user experience.

“Considering the complexity of the project, we’re very happy and satisfied with the result,” said Art Brashaw, Departure’s co-founder. “Being able to positively impact the public’s knowledge and perceptions of a truly historic national icon was very intriguing. On an emotional level, it was about elevating the values this ship truly embodies – love of country, patriotic duty, camaraderie, professionalism, ethics, pride in our national achievements and Constitutional ideals. Freedom is the theme that guided everything we did for the Midway brand.”

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