The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar’s website garners international awards

Isabelle St-Louis (right), Manager of Exhibitions and Lectures, and Sara Shaaban, Art Director at VCUarts Qatar, led the development of The Gallery’s website.

Doha: The newly-launched website for The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar (Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar, a Qatar Foundation partner university) has won several international awards including The Awwwards, CSS Design Awards, and the Orpetron Web Design Awards.

Spain-based The Awwwards recognized the site in the category of Mobile Excellence Award that includes Mobile Friendliness, Performance, Best Practice/PWA and Usability. The Awwwards is a professional web design and development competition body that aims to recognize and promote the best of innovative web design. The best year-round submissions are awarded at the Awwwards conference and prize-giving ceremony, which take place across various key locations in the United States and Europe. 

The jury at CSS Design Awards picked the website as Best UI (user interface) Design, Best UX (user experience) Design, and Best Innovation. The judges also singled out the website for a ‘Special Kudos Award’ for exemplary work. CSS Design Awards is a platform that highlights the world’s most fabulous websites and spots the best-talented web designers.

Orpetron Web Design Awards recognized The Gallery at VCUarts Qatar with a ‘Site of The Day’ for its ‘excellent level of user experience, design and creativity, and certifies that this website has the highest evaluation score of this day among all the winners of Orpetron Web Design Appreciation’. The awarding body, based in Ankara in Turkey, is made up of a group of professionals who recognize and spotlight the world’s top websites and honor the best designers, developers, studios, and agencies, for their creativity.

The website, available in both Arabic and English, stands out as a multi-faceted platform for engagement, with functions that go well beyond the traditional offerings of bite-size information on events and artists. Isabelle St-Louis, Manager of Exhibitions and Lectures, and Sara Shaaban, Art Director, at VCUarts Qatar, spearheaded the development of the website. St-Louis and Shaaban worked with Jack Latulippe Flore-Anne Ducharme, Julien Roudaut, and Eric Tremblay at No Fixed Address Inc (NFA), a Canadian creative agency, to develop the website.

“The website is all about exploration and discovery, and has been developed to accommodate a wide range of local, regional and international interests and perspectives,” says St-Louis. “Each person who visits the site can make his or her interaction as extensive, intensive, immersive, or brief, as he or she chooses. For instance, visitors can acquire so much knowledge by reading articles about the artists, listening to interviews and discovering different perspectives through our essays on similar themes. It’s like bringing the exhibition, the artists, their backgrounds, and stories on similar themes, home with you.”

She adds, “We were well-supported by NFA who went above and beyond our requests, and we’re both pleased to read the comments and receive the awards that have been coming our way, post-launch. It suggests that our combined efforts – our strategy – has paid off. Thus far, the site has been appreciated for its attractive and engaging layout, interesting content, and emphasis on local creative talent. We have also noticed that the number of returning users is quite high.”

Shaaban further explains, “We aimed for a casual, inviting feel that inspires conversations. Hence the website was designed to look more like a blog with a number of different stories or parallel tabs that fit under an issue’s specific theme, than a corporate landing page. A regular visitor to the site will notice how the storylines on the main page change over the span of an issue – usually two months – as we update additional parallels to it. The viewer gets to see a narrative that starts with an exhibition opening, but then extends far beyond that in terms of offering complementary information to the visitor. This helps the viewer gain a wider understanding of an exhibition or event in relation to the theme.”