Augmenting the existing Burke Museum experience for UW students who have limited time by making the best of their visit.
Design a mobile application for the Burke Museum to assist their visitors in navigating through the museum.
UI Design, High Fidelity Interactive Prototype, Research
The Burke Museum App provides visitors to the museum with easy access to information about the museum when they want it.
Before their visit, they can discover the exhibits that are being offered. While at the museum, visitors have the opportunity to experience the museum with a guided audio tour or use the scan function to gain additional information about a specific artifact they are interested in.
Visitors can gain a brief overview of each of the exhibits that are being offered at the Burke Museum.
While at the museum, to cater to different learning styles, such as auditory learners, visitors can choose to walk through a guided audio tour.
When looking at an artifact in the museum, if visitors want to gain additional background information on the artifact, such as how the artifact was discovered or additional facts not presented in the exhibit.
To gain richer insight into the reasons people go to museums and develop a deeper understanding of how to design interactive museum experiences we started by conducting secondary research.
We learned some of the best methods for the different types of learners to retain information. Secondly, we learned that one of the main reasons that people go to museums is to relax and recharge. Since the Burke Museum is located on the University of Washington campus, we saw the potential to design for the students to help provide them with a way to use the museum experience as a way to de-stress and take a break.
Our secondary research helped us learn that we were interested in expanding the modes of learning methods for the Burke Museum. We were also inspired to make our target audience to be the students of the UW.
To gain a deeper understanding of UW students’ motivations, needs, and behaviors when visiting the Burke Museum and how this affects the experience, we conducted paired interviews with our target audience. We also attended a talk with a subject matter expert, where we had the opportunity to ask the Director of Visitor Experience questions. This helped us to learn the business goals for the Burke and their vision.
To gain a better understanding of the Burke Museum experience, we conducted fly-on-the-wall observations at the museum. Taking these observations, we created a journey map of the visitor experience. The journey map helped us to understand the experience of going to the Burke Museum from the beginning to the end. From this, we were able to identify design opportunities for the mobile application to intervene in the overall experience.
1. Students go to the Burke Museum to learn something new, have an activity to do, recharge, or do a class assignment.
“We come here to relax and spend time together” P5
2. Visitors are often unsure of where to start, feel overwhelmed, and their experience could be improved with more guidance.
“It would be nice to have something to drive the experience…” P1
3. Visitors browse in different styles ranged on a spectrum from passive to active browsing. Active browsers have a route and structure in mind, passive browsers prefer to discover exhibits fluidly with less structure.
“I like that the Burke is laid out in a way that forces me to look and read things – it allows me to wander and discover things I normally wouldn’t.” P2
4. Visitors actively interact with different aspects of exhibits through various senses. Visitors also capture their experience through photographing for keepsake.
“I like how the museum is multi-sensory. I can hear different sounds, touch things and read descriptions.” P5
5. Information about artifacts don’t always align with visitors’ mental models and aren’t easily discoverable.
“I had a lot of questions but some fossils didn’t have signs for them – or at least I didn’t see any…” P3
A solution that provides an experience that is crafted to the unique needs and interests of each visitor.
Provide a clear way to guide the visitors from the moment they decide to visit the Burke museum to when they leave to allow for a more fluid and improved experience.
Add onto the existing experience without taking away from the exhibits and encourage discovery and wanderlust.
Touch points and information should engage multiple senses to create a deeply engaging learning experience.
Taking our findings, we ideated potential ways to accomplish our goals in a mobile app. We had three touchpoints we wanted to design for before, during, and after their museum visit.
Before their Visit: A pain point that continually came up was not knowing what the museum had to offer. We wanted to provide users with an overview of what exhibits are being offered.
During the Visit: Many participants mentioned passively browsing through the museum and not reading the information. Another pain point participants brought up was not having more information available during their visit when they wanted it. We were interested in designing for those types of visitors by allowing them to still learn information through audio tours. We chose audio as a means of sharing guiding the users through the museum because we wanted to keep users from looking at their phones while in the museum. At the same time, we recognized that groups of people may not want to do audio tours. For this reason, we ideated to the idea of being able to scan information to learn more.
After the Visit: Some students we interviewed mentioned wanting to be able to revisit information after their museum visit. So any information that is scanned, we wanted users to have the ability to save or bookmark that information.
Keeping our design principles in mind, we started wireframing the app by starting with what the user goals were. From our research, we found one primary user goal and two secondary user goals. For each user goal, we created a task flow and wireframed the corresponding screens.
To keep the Burke Museum website and app visuals consistent, we decided to use their existing brand colors and style. We created an initial screen design to help us understand the look and feel we were looking for as we start designing the UI screens.
As a user, I want to tailor my experience based on my interests to maximize my visit.
As a user, I want to have a seamless experience when browsing the museum by being able to have easy access to information in the moment based on the exhibit I am currently in.
As a user, I want to be able to revisit information about items I discovered after my visit.
Taking our initial screen designs, we tested our clickthrough prototype with 3 participants. From our testing, we learned how we can improve our interface layout and how to make discoverability on the app easier.
1. The home screen felt overwhelming
2. It was difficult for users to discover and navigate to the audio tours
3. Participants wanted to know where in the museum the exhibits are located in addition to an overview of what exhibits are offered
4. They want more background information and fun facts presented when they scan artifacts
To address the issue of the home screen feeling overwhelming, we changed the layout of the exhibit overview to be less of a grid style and simplified it to be a single row of cards with a horizontal scroll. To learn more about an exhibit, users can tap the card. In addition, to help make it easier for visitors to know where the exhibits are located, we added a map view. The users have the ability to view the exhibits in a grid or map view.
We brought the audio tours up to the home screen to make them easier to discover and navigate. If the user has previously done an audio tour or was unable to finish one, we make it easy for them to pick up where they left off by bringing that up to the top of the home page of the app when they revisit the app.
We expanded the information that gets populated when a user scans an artifact. There are more in-depth details on things such as how the artifact was discovered and how the Burke Museum prepared the artifact.
(1) Atelier, ”Top 8 reasons People Visit Museums” https://atelier-si.org/top-8-reasons-people-visit-museums/