I applied for a job at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) in spring 2006, but had to withdraw due to the low pay...not that I would have gotten the job anyway. Sounded VERY competitive, as it should be....I sure would have loved working there. Below are some notes I accumulated about their website and other items.

420 employees and almost 900 volunteers.

About 1.8 million people visit us each year. Video Interface


The aquarium opened October 20, 1984. In 1996, we almost doubled our exhibit space with the opening of the Outer Bay Wing, devoted to the open ocean and deep sea. The main feature is the Outer Bay Waters exhibit, the one-million-gallon tank containing tuna, sharks and sea turtles.

Melissa Hutchinson Advice "If you're interested in communicating science, read a lot, know your book science, develop good writing skills and get a lot of perspectives. Stay open-minded; understand how people think, what makes people tick and what motivates them."

Splash Zone interface is interesting, colorful yet useful. http://www.mbayaq.org/efc/efc_se/se_sz.asp?bhcp=1

MBA Home Page

[These are VERY rough notes of my impressions of the MBA site.]

Nice. Dominated by images. Site has some amazingly creative content. Lots of variation and interactivity, much like the exhibits themselves. Love the field guide for finding animals, etc.

Lots of elements have different look and feel. Inconsistency a usability challenge. Diversity balanced by consistency. Dynamic balance between the two.

Main nav at top, some confusion with two levels of nav. Quick links are visually very similar to main top nav elements. Should call them out visually as quick links, maybe even with a label.

Headers for main content not distinct enough, hard to pick out. Like use of images

  • Plan event
  • Search
  • Contact Us
  • About animals
  • Pressroom

Are these located in buckets as well?

There's so much stuff on this site. Like legos, you keep add in more. Maybe what need to do is take all the pieces apart and assemble it anew.

Does not appear they have a content management system, though the inconsistent urls could be teamsite styled system. Could be they have one but it's not being used well.

Wide use of pop-ups for lower level nav pages. Works for glossary, maybe faqs, but not for taking user to other area of site. When redirected to other page on the site with the normal nav elements, it confusing, do I use this window to continue browsing or go back to the other. Should not have nav elements in popup.

Need to reuse content in multiple areas--the same content.

Site needs consistent taxonomy

Reuse content in multiple sections, or even in multiple places within a section

Desperately need navigation system.

Exhibits section could be a model for nav system. I love the landing page, with image and text, very clear. Then that nav is mirrored a bit in the left nav of the child pages, AND a new top nav element further partitions the content. I like this approach. As a user, I know where to go to dig deeper into the site. The idea of having another consistent nav element for deeper pages is needed on this site. Almost all sections demand it. Exhibits section may be a good start for a new system to use throughout the site.

Like a lego set, keep adding pieces. Need to take all pieces apart, start over,

But the main need is for a navigations system that has nice look and feel. between sections. Given disperate content types between sections, that's a tough need to satisfy.

Contextual Links within body text need to be pulled out into a sidebar box or boxes. Related links, Links within the area, links to other sections, links to field guide, glossary, etc. It's a shift with modern sites, where the hyperlinks are not going into the text because they interrupt the flow of user's reading, and pull them away from reading. Put the extra resources in a consistent location, so users know where they can go to get that kind of info.

Site map reassuring, in that it looks very organized; however, it doesn't represent all the content. I believe there are a slew of pop-ups not accounted for here. This is where a taxonomy system would work well. Tag each content item with where is should reside so that it is automatically inserted into the right section of the site. To do that, you would need to have consistent content types that could fit in most of the sections--some sections would obviously be unique to themselves, like donor/membership.


All visually different, not really much consistency. That's main weakness I see--inconsistency in design of each section's landing page. This makes it difficult for user orienting themselves. User experience challenge. Each page has it's own look and feel, and navigation locations.

header usage, good useage, may need bolder or headers that stand out more, some could be trimmed.

Site Map

Content Buckets

Visitor Information

Conservation & Research

About Our Web Site

Aquarium Exhibits

Teachers & Kids

Membership & Donors (Contributions)


I don't like the dropdown menu. Hides the navigation from user. A two column bullet list might be better, though that's a personal preference. The dropdown does the job.

THOUGH, I like the way the FAQ works, not anchor links, but true filter, which is a nice functional element...maybe dropdown best...I just dislike hiding the info from user. Maybe the filter should be introduced with some text to highlight the functionality....

Web Team

No writer--who's writing this stuff?

Manager, Jane Cross

Senior Engineer, Don Najd

Web Designer, Bridget Ryan

Web Engineer, Curtis Roman

Dedicated Volunteer, Carlena Weinberg

Local job seeker — 18 August 2007, 14:57

I too turned down a job a MBA due to the low pay. I see that they regularly advertise for the same web position. Perhaps they should think of paying a competitive wage (especially for Monterey Bay area housing prices) so they can hold on to a good developer.

Brent — 19 August 2007, 07:15

Yes, you'd think this would be a dream job, but if you can't afford to live in the area...I do like their site--they try new approaches to education and in presenting info. And they do appear to appreciate what the web can do for them. Sounds more like a gig for someone with a nest egg to live on and a passion for the MBA mission.