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The Phillips Collection Website Case Study


After awarding a contract to build the federated search to Web Master Designs, The Phillips Collection (TPC) determined that its current website needed to be updated in order to make it more useful. The old website had been built out over time it did not have a consistent look and feel, was hard to maintain, and didn't provide a good user experience.


While preparing for The Phillips Collection search project, TPC decided that its current website needed to be updated with a new graphical design and consistent user interface. After discussing the available options with Web Master Designs, it decided to also incorporate a content management system (CMS) and requested help migrating the current website over to the new design.


TPC contracted with Swim Design to develop the graphical design for the new site. Web Master Designs worked with Swim to ensure that the new design could be implemented technically and then created HTML/CSS prototypes for the various page types. Web Master Designs also helped TPC select a CMS solution (Adobe Publish, formerly Atomz and Omniture) and then implemented the new design into templates, as well as building out all of the back-end programming required for the project.

This project was implemented in Adobe Publish using its template-scripting language (PHP). Dynamic server-side programming was written in ASP.NET using C# and XML for the back end. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript were used for the front end, which also includes Yahoo! JavaScript libraries and AJAX implementations.


The new website was launched in 2008 and has been very successful. The website can now be maintained by TPC staff with limited programmer involvement, and maintenance of sections of the site have been delegated out of TPC's IT group to other staff members. The site now includes a federated search and better integration of TPC's content into a unified site design.


"I have been working with Robert and Web Master Designs for 12 years after he was referred to me for his good work by a professional colleague at a prominent museum. He has been everything I was told to expect and more. He has helped us implement numerous major projects: a complete redo of our website architecture more than once, implementing content management systems, and a search component that drills into our collection, library databases, website, and blog content.

Frankly, I would run anything past him. He is clear that he is not a designer, but he manages to fix design flaws for us on a regular basis. He's honest, dependable, even-keeled, helpful, affordable, innovative, great at presenting ideas in digestible language, and just a joy to work with for my team and for other departments here, including our communications and our curatorial departments. Whenever we are considering a new technical implementation that will interface with our website and collection content, I make sure he is included since he can usually provide the most direct and affordable solution to any problem. His job costing is impeccable and I can depend on it always being correct. While I am on one coast and he is on the other, there is no downside whatsoever to our working arrangement. I'm so happy to have the opportunity to work with him. A+++. I wish all of my professional working relationships were this easy and reliable."

- Darci Vanderhoff, CIO, The Phillips Collection


The Phillips Collection opened to the public in 1921 and is America's first museum of modern art. It is a private institution that is not a part of the federal government. It relies for support on admission and program fees, endowment income, and generous assistance from individual donors, corporations, foundations, and others.