Layout design should always follow brand guidelines and feel appropriate to the content. Make use of the full expressive range of brand assets. Take the opportunity to showcase quality photography and evocative text. Take cues from and re-purpose existing designs to help maintain consistency across communications.
A successful layout is eye-catching, clear, and functional, and should be recognizable at a glance as the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Make sure that all public-facing branded communication is reviewed and approved by the Office of Public Affairs.
What to Include
- The museum logo with the appropriate lockup
- A call to action (CTA) telling the audience what is being asked of them (to attend an event, sign up for something, enter an email, etc.)
- The date, time, and location for all events, and admission price and RSVP information when relevant
- Contact and social media information
Here are a few examples of how the NMAAHC branding may be used in context.
Hierarchy is the order in which the mind perceives information on a page. Elements with higher contrast from their surroundings will stand out first. A clear visual hierarchy helps the viewer skim through the page and glean the message at a glance. Allow the content to be the guide when assigning levels of importance to different pieces of information.
- Use variables like size, weight, and color to create distinct levels of hierarchy.
- Avoid layouts with no variation as they will look flat and be harder to comprehend.
Scale is the relative size of elements in a composition. Large variation in scale can create emphasis and hierarchy, and convey a sense of awe by drawing the eye to one element.
- Use layouts with dramatic variations in the scale of elements.
- Avoid layouts with uniform scaling as these lack a visual focal point.
Layouts and compositions should have a single dominant focal point. This enhances clarity by giving the viewer an anchor and helps guide their eye.
- Use layouts with a clear focal point. Let the content breathe by using generous white space.
- Avoid layouts packed with content.
Communications from the museum should be inclusive and accessible to everyone. Keep the needs of all people in mind, and wherever possible:
- Follow website accessibility best practices online (usability.gov is a useful resource)
- Use simple, clear language
- Use large, high-contrast text for easy readability
- Use color schemes that do not compromise legibility for people with colorblindness
- Include alt text and/or descriptive captions with photographs and other images
- Provide captions/transcripts for video and audio content
- Include icons and visual cues to support text
- Use inclusive language everywhere, and include comprehensive and/or open-ended response options on forms
For marketing, branding, and general communications questions, contact the Office of Public Affairs at: NMAAHC-MarCom@si.edu
Smithsonian identity guidelines and resources can be found at: logo.si.edu