Title:Envisioning the E-Quarium: Strategic Design Planning for the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Web Site
Authors:Michael Rigsby, Lauralee Alben
Publication:MW2001: Museums and the Web 2001

This presentation focuses on the strategic design planning and vision creation process for the E-Quarium, the online complement to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. More than six months of informed investigation and analysis resulted in an ambitious redesign of the web site, which launched in October 1999. The aquarium and AlbenFaris worked in close partnership in a collaborative development process that included visitor research, establishment of a clear strategic vision, a set of goals and content objectives, identification of target audiences, scenario planning, competitive analysis, site definition and design. As a result, the new E-Quarium exemplifies the relevance of grounded design practice.

More than a design case study, this is a thoughtful weaving of the process, perspectives and experiences the designers gained from understanding the aquarium's structure, mission and culture and the needs of the aquarium's key audiences. The inclusion of experts in marine biology and conservation, exhibition design and technology as members of the development team provided inspiration and insights beyond the normal boundaries of interactive design.

This presentation is also a journey into the wonder of kelp forests and the deep sea-habitats showcased in the aquarium exhibits and the online E-Quarium. Both the physical aquarium and the E-Quarium have a profound effect on visitors, inspiring and informing them about the wonders of the oceans. And both serve as catalysts, making visitors aware of ocean conservation issues and encouraging them to join with the Monterey Bay Aquarium in the cause of ocean conservation.