Tracking the Buffalo Website

Exploring the role of buffalo in the lives of the American Indians Visit Site


Information Architecture, Digital Strategy, Design, Development

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History needed to refresh and modernize their popular online activity, “Tracking the Buffalo: Stories from a Buffalo Hide Painting”.

We transformed the site with a beautiful new design and greatly-improved user experience. The new site, including both of the site’s games, are built with HTML and JavaScript, to be compatible with tablet devices such as the iPad and compliant with the Smithsonian’s rules for accessibility. Targeted towards students, the site teaches users about the role of the buffalo in the lives of the American Indians of the northern Plains.

Education through Exploration

The “What Story Does it Tell?” activity encourages users to examine the buffalo hide in detail through a seek & find challenge. Users are then asked questions about what they are looking at and given primary sources from which to draw their own conclusions. Once they are finished they can compare their conclusions to notes from a Smithsonian Historian.

Challenging the User

The “What Can You Make from a Buffalo?” matching game encourages users to use their critical thinking skills to determine which part of the buffalo was used in making assorted Native American objects. Users can guess which objects were made from which part by comparing the images of each object with each part of a buffalo. Users can also use a process of elimination to match all of the items correctly.

Also on the site are plentiful informational and classroom resources, including extra information on the hide and the artist who painted it, a map of the Plains Indians, a reading list, and a printable template on which students can draw their own hides.

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