Inspired by my own experiences as museum visitor, for my personal project at Topp I decided to create an application that could be useful for museum visitors, especially those who are feeling lost when in front of an artwork.
After defining the problem area and exploring different ideas, I created a first prototype in Sketch and then after a few iteration I used Noodl to make it interactive. I then did a first Guerrilla Testing with 5 users to identify whether the prototype was effective, and then pitched the results to my colleagues. I will be continuing the project in the following months for my Master Thesis.
In this project, I worked on my own throughout all of its phases (with the help of my supervisors).
April 2018 — present
When visiting (modern) art museums in Italy and abroad, I noticed some aspects that made the overall visitor experience poorer:
1. The museum often feels as a place for “experts only”: those who lack knowledge in art have little access to information about the artworks and possible interpretations.
2. The text displayed in the museums is often long to go through and not always conveniently placed — it’s harder to focus on the painting and to keep concentration on the text itself.
3. Museum apps are in general lacking and, if present, they have a poor user experience.
STEP 1: DESK RESEARCH
When working on the first ideas and sketches, I read some psychology research insights to influence and guide my work:
1. People relate an artwork to their own lives: looking at paintings can evoke past experiences and bring the visitor to a state of flow (=effortless concentration and enjoyment)
2. Presenting information influences mental focus: the presence or absence of information about an artwork can influence whether the visitor will engage in a mentally effortful exploration of the artwork.
3. Our brain is made for visuals: it’s not surprising that stories are one of the latest ways to consume news; images together with bitesize text can make information easier to learn and to digest. That’s why the text present in the museum can be felt as tedious or uninteresting.
STEP 2: SKETCHES AND WIREFRAMES
I firstly sketched 5 different ideas, and after first feedback I iterated on other 3 using Sketch. The winning idea then went through 3 iterations. I then put the final artboards in a Noodl prototype for testing.
The prototype shows 3 main features:
1. Artwork recognition: by scanning the artwork, the user can access a recognition screen with the basic information of the artwork, and choose whether to listen to the audio guide or read more about it.
2. Bitesize information: the information about the painting is shown in a story-like format.
3. Social component: after reading the information, the user can select the emotion that the painting evoked, leave a comment or read the latest news associated with the artwork.
After the prototype was ready, I went to the SMK museum of Copenhagen and asked 5 participants (4 male, 1 female) to evaluate my app prototype. This quick test generated very intersting insights:
1. People don’t tap, they scroll: when first interacting with the story, the instinct is to scroll or swipe, but not tap, to proceed.
2. The “discover” button is unclear to the users
3. People like to read a coherent story and trivia specific to the painting and the historical context
4. People don’t always know what their feeling is when looking at an artwork.
In order to improve the current version of the prototype, I will iterate more on the following aspects:
Types of interaction: scrolling vs swiping; being in front of the painting with the app in hand
Content: enhance the story format
Social: experiment with different emotion or different ways of social sharing.