Since the late 1930s, the San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield has honored and preserved the legacy of the Battle of San Jacinto that occurred on April 21, 1836 near present-day Houston, Texas. The monumental battle not only established the Republic of Texas, but also paved the way for westward expansion after the Republic became one of the United States. For the past 20 years, BrandExtract has partnered with the museum to tell the epic story of how Texas (and indeed the West) was won. This is a brand nearly two hundred years In the making, and we’re thrilled to continue to help them deliver on their mission and vision.
With the recent launch of the third website designed and produced by BrandExtract, we wanted to mark the occasion with a retrospective on the site’s evolution. The rapid pace of changing technology has resulted in an equally rapid change in user expectations. Keeping up has not been without its challenges, but read on to learn just how far we’ve come.
First Website Redesign: 2003
In 2002, BrandExtract partnered with the non-profit San Jacinto Museum of History Association to produce a new website. The museum’s original charter was first and foremost to “revisualize the history of Texas and the region,” among other cultural and educational goals.
The museum's site at the time was very minimalistic — an ancient artifact of the 1990s — which simply could not capture the full depth and breadth of this historically significant battlefield.
Our team got to work designing and producing a Texas-sized website to better support the museum’s goals of increasing visibility, providing educational resources, and facilitating better communication with the community. It also provided more thorough resources for visitors including a calendar of events and the ability to accept donations online.
Using our enterprise-ready web content management system, SAM, BrandExtract brought a new level of functionality to the website, enabling the museum staff to maintain the website’s content themselves.
That initial redesign also established San Jacinto's brand for the next 20 years, introducing a new logo, distinct color palette, and messaging that matched the bold mission of the organization. The 2003 website won awards from both the WebAwards and the Art Directors Club of Houston for its distinguished style and top-tier functionality that allowed the museum to reach even more people. Looking back on it now, it all seems so quaint!
Second Website Redesign: 2013
Fast-forward ten years later, and it was time to update the San Jacinto site with more robust functionality and an expansion of content. This time around, our team helped make sure to capture the vast amount of resources offered by the museum, from the various exhibits to searchable collections of artifacts and veteran biographies. Notably, we partnered with EarthCam to set up “The Eye of Texas,” a live camera feed of the view from the top of the Monument, which is the tallest war memorial in the world (12 feet taller than the Washington Monument!).
Other upgrades included a “Then and Now” interactive map of the battlefield, a more interactive user experience overall, and a searchable “Finding Aids” resource, to help researchers locate rare documents and manuscripts in the museum’s archive. Users were also provided the means to plan and coordinate their visits as well as schedule research appointments in the library.
In 2014, the San Jacinto Monument and Museum website won a Gold Award for Advertising for the Arts & Sciences from the American Advertising Federation, and two Awards of Excellence for Web Development in the Non-profit and Education categories from the Web Marketing Association’s international WebAwards.
Current Redesign: 2023
Starting in 2020, our team began work on our third update and redesign to level up the site once more. This time the strategic goals for the site were focused on increasing tourism to the museum and battlefield, which represents a significant fundraising channel. As part of our research, some of our team members went on a field trip, receiving a tour from the museum staff that was both informational and inspirational.
We also got to work updating the brand identity of the organization, which was renamed San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield when the Texas Historical Commission assumed management of the site and facilities in 2019.
Working alongside our long-time partners at Vision Productions, we took the opportunity to tell the story of the Battle of San Jacinto like never before. Videos of re-enactors as well as storytelling vignettes by various Texas luminaries and educators feature prominently for the first time. Finally, the full, epic story of the battle can be told. Streamlined user paths make navigating the site easier than ever, and family-friendly programs are emphasized, as are various ways to support the Monument and Museum.
A Lasting Partnership
We've been producing and designing the San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield’s website on a pro bono basis for well over 20 years now, and we couldn't be more proud to help keep the story of the Battle of San Jacinto alive.
“All Texans share in this historical and cultural legacy,” said Malcolm Wolter, BrandExtract COO, and San Jacinto project lead since 2002. “It has been an honor and a privilege to work alongside the good people at San Jacinto all these years to preserve and protect the true story of the founding of the great state of Texas."
Our strategic partnership with the San Jacinto Museum and Battlefield is just one way of giving back to our community — and living our core values. What are you doing this weekend? Come out to see the monument, museum, and the battlefield! Or maybe just spend some time exploring the site!