I was recommended for the Met Opera Site redesign by Paula Scher of Pentagram. Paula had done the re-branding of the Met and before I went to meet the new director of the Opera, Peter Gelb, I stopped at Pentagram to talk with Paula about her experience. She showed me the work she and her team had done. The new logotype was simple and elegant and perfect; done in Baskerville 10 with subtle shading of grey and white. I asked Paula what she thought I should pay attention to with the site design and she pointed to the white space left around the logotype in her comps. She explained that the logotype would be compromised if crowded…that the whole point was to communicate a sense of openness.
That theme – openness – would become the driving force for the eventual site design. Mr. Gelb, later that afternoon, shared his desire for the Met opera with me. He explained that Opera was seen as an art form for the upper class; he wanted to shed that reputation and communicate that it was and is a rich, vibrant and contemporary art form open to anyone. He was planning free events, open houses and tours. He would open a gallery in the building and host contemporary artists in mixed mediums. He would have a small film theater devoted to screenings of Operas and not surprisingly, he was interested in all forms of media on the site; video, audio, chats, blogs, picture galleries and dynamic content that changed everyday. He wanted to portray the Opera as a beehive of creative energy with an open door policy to anyone interested.
I had asked Noreen Morioka, of AdamsMorioka, to join me in the redesign. At the time I was working solo, out of a home office in San Francisco, and Noreen offered support in the difficult job of managing the project and aiding me in the design and production of the many pages required. Usually the goal of the site has something to do with commerce, but it’s almost always paired with something less concrete – or more concrete depending how you look at it. This turned out to be a thematic directive make the site communicate openness.
Shortly after launch the Met reported a 49% increase in online ticket sales, a 78% increase in page views, and a 60% increase in unique visitors. The site was featured in the Boston Globe and Debbie Millman’s book “Essential Principles of Graphic Design”.