Embarking on a Museum Master Plan project? User experience research can help!

 

User Experience research can inform ideation, planning and decision-making to make sure you’re on-target for current and future visitors

 

 

Here’s how:

For museum Master Planning projects, the holistic perspective of our multi-layered, user-experience (UX) research focuses on three elements: The Current Experience, Your Mission, and the Future Experience.

The work we do addresses those elements by:

(1) surfacing critical patterns to reveal what works and what doesn’t work – helping you decide what to change and what to extend or build upon

(2) revealing how audiences respond to key mission concepts (i.e. engage with creativity, participate in conservation, appreciate (bio) diversity, be inspired, connect with culture, etc.) – so you know how best to connect visitors with your mission

(3) investigating the future experience for your institution – so your plans will target and excite visitors and families of the future and exceed their expectations for interacting with your museum’s content


On a recent project in Chicago, we collaborated with an iconic institution, an architectural firm and an exhibit design firm to support efforts on a brand-new Experience Master Plan.

Here’s what we did:

(1) Exposed the existing experience – Revealed the current experience baseline and topology of engagement, identifying what worked and what didn’t about the existing experience

(2) Unpacked the mission – Determined how to activate key mission concepts by investigating with experts, professionals, and/or organizations who successfully ’moved the needle’ on those same mission elements for their own audiences

(3) Scanned the horizon – Looked into the future around critical (mission-, content- or tech- forward) topics, provided insight and recommendations for developing concepts to meet future needs and evolving habits, and addressed emerging technologies

 

Dig In UX provided over 30 data visualization deliverables during the 12-week project:

  • Visual Mindsets – four mental models by which visitors engage and interact, achieve goals and encounter barriers inherent to their mindset
  • Wayfinding Maps – describing frustrations, transitions, delighters and moments of connection to mission critical content
  • Gallery Zoom-ins – describing visitor experiences in individual gallery spaces – highlighting what works, what doesn’t
  • Entry/Exit Map – detailing visitor experience with entrance, exit, and ticketing – highlighting what works and what doesn’t
  • Two by Two Charts – describing preliminary insights leading to the development of four Mindsets
  • Mission Profiles – Details of expert mission interviews on how to best connect visitors to key mission concepts, to maintain that connection, as well as what to avoid
  • Mission Concept Visualizations – A comprehensive view of key mission elements across interviewees describing barriers, guidelines and recommendations
  • Future Guest Personality Boards – detailing the evolution of future-critical topics, learning and sharing around the topic, how one might become interested in the topic, and participant recommendations institutions of this type
  • Future Guest Inspirational Collages – A series of images, gathered from participants to visualize how participants think and feel about their future-critical topic
  • Future Guest Mind Maps – Visual representation of participant data describing why these future-critical experiences are important, what the experiences mean to them, and how those thoughts and feelings overlap between groups

 

Our UX data serves as a series of guardrails for guidance as well as stimulus for inspiration and ideation.

These actionable, design-forward, visual UX deliverables don’t need ‘interpretation’, but instead allow teams to quickly digest vast amounts of complex data and move on to concepting, brainstorming, and decision-making.

With UX research in hand (and in mind), museum Master Planning teams can move forward, confident in their knowledge of where the user experiences currently are, what the expectations are for the future, and how to consider fitting it to their mission.

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