Madwell and the New York Botanical Garden Celebrate the Success of the FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life Mobile Guide

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This past spring, Bushwick-based creative agency Madwell and the New York Botanical Garden teamed up to create a digital companion for the institution's latest event focused on beloved artist Frida Kahlo. The web app, which launched in May, has been accessed by over 12,000 unique visitors over the course of over 21,000 sessions resulting in over 90,000 page views with a bounce rate of only 3.07%.

This past spring, Bushwick-based creative agency Madwell and the New York Botanical Garden teamed up to create a digital companion for the institution's latest event focused on beloved artist Frida Kahlo. The web app, which launched in May, has been accessed by over 12,000 unique visitors over the course of over 21,000 sessions resulting in over 90,000 page views with a bounce rate of only 3.07%.

Concepted, designed, and developed in-house by Madwell’s team, the mobile guide is meant to act like a native app—without the need for downloading anything extra to your phone or tablet. NYBG provided the team with a wealth of content including in-depth audio commentary by guest curator Dr. Adriana Zavala, videos, and photo galleries, many of which feature Kahlo’s work, to supplement each stop in the exhibit. The sheer breadth and quality of the content demanded a digital solution that was extremely organized and easy to use yet reflective of the artist's distinguished place in popular culture.

Aside from usability, aesthetics were also a chief concern. The app needed to acknowledge Kahlo’s distinctive style without being overly derivative. To do this, the design team created a number of custom icons, maps, typefaces and color palettes inspired by the artist’s work and world. This great attention to detail is most notable in the Frida Selfie feature, a playful addition which allows users to create their own self-portrait à la Frida and embellish it with hand-illustrated flowers, animals, and accessories.

“It’s easy to dismiss selfies as nothing more than a modern frivolity, but we saw a real opportunity to make a connection between them and Kahlo’s unique approach to self-portraiture,” Lead Designer Matt Fry explained. “The act of taking a selfie and then enhancing it with iconography similar to Kahlo’s own work is powerful.” The general public seems to agree—#fridaselfie has been used over 300 times on Instagram so far.

Because the guide can be viewed and enjoyed beyond the garden grounds, speedy loading time was a necessity. The lightweight interface engineered by Madwell’s development team makes it easy to browse all guide content, toggle seamlessly between English and Spanish, and load and share Frida Selfies almost instantaneously.

The FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life Mobile Guide is just one of several projects Madwell has made in conjunction with NYBG. The agency first collaborated with the garden in 2013 creating advertising collateral, a microsite, and an award-winning app for the blockbuster show Wild Medicine. In 2014, they worked together again to develop an augmented reality-based app for Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens & The Women Who Designed Them. This mobile guide is the third in a series funded by Bloomberg Connects, a division of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which is committed to enhancing the visitor experience at cultural institutions worldwide via cutting-edge technology.

FRIDA KAHLO: Art, Garden, Life is open to the public through November 1, 2015. The guide can be accessed at http://www.nybg.org/fridamobile and viewed on any mobile device.

Madwell is a Brooklyn-based creative agency. Clients include NYBG, Vita Coco, Happy Family, Babyganics, Union Square Hospitality Group, and many others. 2015 marks Madwell’s fifth birthday.

Credits
Lead Designer: Matt Fry
Designers: Lenora Rigoni, Olena Subchuk, & Jake Smiley
Lead UX Designer: Jess Mireau
UX Designer: Robyn Korine
Lead Developer: Walt Mitchell
Copywriter: Laura Wasson
Creative Producer: Berto Aguayo
Account Manager: Karen Andres

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Nicole Brunner
Madwell
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