Papercut Interactive | Chattanooga Web Design and Digital Marketing
Tennessee Aquarium

Aquatic Fun on Chattanooga’s Riverfront

Situated on the banks of the Tennessee River, the Tennessee Aquarium has been one of Chattanooga’s most popular tourist destinations since it opened in 1992. Its two buildings, River Journey and Ocean Journey, house thousands of animals from the world’s fresh and saltwater environments.


Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee Aquarium came to Papercut for a beautiful, responsive website that users could easy access from desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones.

Goals for the new Tennessee Aquarium site included increasing attendance, memberships, and contributions, as well as showcasing the IMAX® 3D Theater and River Gorge Explorer experiences that are also available through the Aquarium. In addition, the site needed an intuitive navigation structure that would allow users to quickly access important information.



The navigation structure on the old Aquarium site was confusing. It consisted of a main navigation track and side navigation bars that changed as users moved throughout the site, making it easy to get lost while exploring.

To clean things up for the new design, we divided the primary navigation into two main tracks. The first focuses on information for planning a visit to the Tennessee Aquarium and highlights the attraction’s animals and exhibits. The second includes information for teachers and members, as well as links to access the calendar and purchase tickets.

The Aquarium site was large, and all areas needed to be easily accessible in the new design, so we added drop-downs for items within each track. Drop-downs on the top track expand horizontally, and the secondary track drop-downs are vertical.

To help achieve the client’s goal of increasing donations, we added a prominent donate button to the top track.

Animal ID and IMAX Movie Pages

The animals are the main attraction at the Aquarium, and their pages got special attention throughout the project. Each animal ID page contains a large visual area that can house an image or a video and a content section that features information about the animal, including its Latin name and where it’s on exhibit inside the Tennessee Aquarium, as well as educational videos.

A blue box on the right contains supplementary information, including the animal’s size, range, habitat and diet. Each page also contains a side navigation, providing easy access to information about other animals within a given class.

The design of the animal pages carries over to the IMAX movie pages, which also contain large image areas, informative text and videos, and a side navigation with links to each film’s showtimes, tickets, trailer, and official website.


The Tennessee Aquarium hosts multiple special events, including IMAX movies, butterfly releases, and keeper talks, each day. To make all of this information easily accessible, we designed a robust, responsive calendar for the new site.

The main calendar page contains a listing of every event happening each day of the month, along with times and links to more information. On the desktop and tablet views, users can click through a “More” link to see events happening later in the day. In the mobile view, the days of the week stack, and each is given a drop-down with a list of upcoming events that updates automatically as the day goes on.

For easy navigation on the desktop and tablet views, we added some filter buttons that allow users to quickly access the types of events they want to attend. Users can choose to view only IMAX showtimes, River Gorge Explorer cruise times, or penguin keeper talks, among other options.

In ExpressionEngine, we made the calendar easy for Aquarium employees to update and maintain by including rules for event dates and times, as well as checkboxes for event categories and fields for custom event descriptions.


4.36% increase in sessions
10.31% increase in pageviews
34.17% increase in mobile sessions

"We have had a web presence since the dawn of the Internet so we just needed a new, updated, responsive web design. We wanted to use a local company with a good reputation. We also looked closely at how quickly [Papercut] answered questions and [was] ready to help. I’ve never worked with a company with better customer service. It means everything and was a major factor in choosing Papercut."

Janie Shipley, Website and Marketing Projects Manager, Tennessee Aquarium
Back to Top