"For this project carried out during my studies the task at hand was to observe visitors of a gallery or exhibition to identify any issues that arose during their visit. I was to identifying problems through observation and design a solution incorporating User Centered Design. I chose the Tate Modern Gallery because it is a place I enjoy visiting (although on insight this was quite an ambitious decision)"
  • Research
  • Ideation
  • UI design
  • Prototyping
  • Observation
  • Research
  • User interviews
  • Pen and paper
  • Personas
  • List of problems
  • Solution design
  • Low fidelity prototypes
  • 4 weeks

Observation and research

The research phase of this project involved shadowing people through the gallery and noting any issues they experienced.

I paid special attention to the following:

  • Were there any problems? e.g displays not working, difficulty accessing areas, etc.
  • Did they find what they were looking for? e.g was information readily accessible, could they find the exhibit they wanted to visit easily.
  • Did they seem frustrated at any point?

At the end of the observation phase I surveyed visitors leaving the gallery to gather their opinions.

Issues identified

Problems in the gallery
  • The size of the gallery makes it difficult to see everything in one day.
  • Most people follow the same route which creates bottlenecks in some areas.
Problems with the app
  • The app is rarely used by visitors.
  • Items are listed in alphabetical order which bears no relation to the order they'll be encountered in the gallery.

Guerrilla research takeaways

Although I observed some issues in the interaction between the users and the gallery, all visitors said they were very satisfied after their visit and claimed they had no issues.

(Trust what users do, not what users say!)

Surveyed visitors didn't have any feedback regarding improvements to the gallery. Most were happy just wandering around, which means that the solution for those who want more direction shouldn't be invasive and be available only for those who require it.

A special mode for time-limited users could be produced that creates a custom route based upon their interests and time available.

Designing a solution

  1. Desk research Learn how many visitors a day the gallery has. Learn the average time spent in the gallery.
  2. Personas Create personas for visitors.
  3. Benchmarking Research the routes created by other large galleries/museums in their applications and their approach to queue management and organization.
  1. Inventory of contents Catalogue the gallery's works with appropriate metadata to power the app.
  2. Card sorting Give visitors cards listing the different works exhibited at the gallery and ask them to group them in order to define the most important works.
  3. Affinity diagram Use card sorting and affinity diagrams to create different routes that are relevant and interesting for each persona.

Low fidelity prototypes

Design thinking will be used to:
  1. EmpathizeWhich works or routes are most interesting to each profile.
  2. DefineThe routes to follow.
  3. DeviseInteraction methods between the application and the gallery.
  1. PrototypeThe different routes and points of interaction.
  2. TestChecking that the different routes are feasible in the time allocated to them, create heuristic evaluations and cognitive paths for the prototypes to be able to introduce changes before performing user tests.
Paper prototype of the feedback loading screen
Loading screen

The personalised tour will need some time to load. This screen will work as a confirmation of the options selected by the user.

Paper prototype of the initial tour page
Tour overview

The apps offers an overview of the levels that will be visited and gives the user the option of make changes.

Paper prototype of an example of a route page
Touring the Gallery

The works that are part of the tour are presented in the same order as they appear on the route.

Other works that are not part of the tour are also shown in case the user wants to know more about them.

Paper prototype of the additional info page
Additional info

Clicking on a work shows more information about the artist, close up pictures, curator's comments and availability of souvenirs in the shops.

Main takeaway, Improving the visitor experience

“Observing the user in context allows the designer to identify issues that may not seem obvious, but exist nonetheless.”