In this 2 week project, myself and two other designers were instructed to research and solve a problem within the service industry. I worked in a team of 3. With Matt and Margaret, we started brainstorming ideas.
Through my experiences and interests in geology, I recognized a large problem that has always bothered me in the geology department of many museums. I always leave these exhibits wanting to know more and not fully understanding what it is that I am looking at. The displays are beautiful but overwhelming because of the lack of context and information.
Matt and Margaret agreed that this was something worth investigating further to learn from the museum-goers if this was in fact a problem and what we could learn from their thoughts.
Once we had an idea of the potential issue we wanted to tackle, we began the Design Thinking process:
1. Empathize — Learning about our audience
2. Define — Point of view based on User Needs
3. Ideate — Come up with creative solutions
4. Prototype — Build a representation of our ideas
5. Test — Test our ideas
We planned out a visit to the largest local gem and mineral exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Before we left, we prepared questions to ask as well as a proto-persona for the type of user we wanted to learn from. Below you can see the quick persona I created as well as the digitized version from Matt.
Site Visit and User Research Interviews
We spent hours within the exhibit observing and interviewing people. We were able to acquire a lot of information from the users we spoke to and once we understood the user and their goals more, we began to analyze the situation from their perspective and in relation to their needs. We combined these user perspectives with what we had learned about the museum itself and the technology possible for the site.
We used these to develop the key insight that would drive our project and the needs we wanted to solve for our user.
We discovered a lot of users had very similar issues with the geology exhibit. One reoccurring issue was the lack of context and information about what the users were seeing. This confirmed my initial reasoning for investigating this experience. We were given a lot of insights as to what the user expected and what would make them more interested in this exhibit.
“The thing about history and artifacts is, without context,
they are just things. They don’t really matter.”
-Megan (Quote from interview)
We worked together to think about what the users needed most and what would emotions we could tap into to give them a solution they would love. Below you will see all three of us taking turns editing each others insight statements until we came to our final, perfected insight.
"A compassionate woman with a desire for knowledge needs to share her learning experience because it creates a stronger bond between her, her loved-ones, and what she has learned."
Next, together we worked on a user journey map to locate areas the experience could be improved. We color coordinated the steps of the path, the pain points where improvements could be made as well as potential solutions to some of these pains.
This activity led us to narrowing our potential solutions. We wanted to focus developing something that helped us solve our user’s biggest frustrations. The app was going to work off of a data base of unlimited interaction points for all items in the exhibits that the user could use the app to interact with them and learn more. This would educate the user and engage the user in “collecting” items throughout the museum. At the end of the museum experience, the user could have a collection of what they saved to share with others and promote their amazing experience at the Natural History museum.
Once we had new ideas that solved each of the users largest frustrations, we began developing what we could create to solve their needs and improve the museum experience within the gem and mineral exhibit.
Below you will see our notes of what problems we wanted to solve and how we could combine them into one app. We began wire-framing and testing out ideas. You can see the early iterations of our design that I sketched out below.
AXURE Wire Frame
Here are the screen shots to a wire frame user flow, made in Axure
Starting in the classroom with a paper prototype, we did some user tests to get feedback on our idea. With some opinions from our classmates, rough screens were mocked up in Illustrator for a wire-frame prototype. We took our wire-framed idea and brought it back to the museum. We interviewed more and asked for feedback on our solution. We gained a lot more insight and confirmation that what we had developed would be seen as beneficial to the average museum-goer.
Primary Interaction Flow
After making some modifications to the flow and interactions, I took our wire frames and turned them into higher fidelity screens. We based the colors and styling off of the existing NHMLA website. I created all of the screens to reenact the typical user experience and be able to build a usable prototype on InVision.
Additional Interaction Experiences
We wanted to add a few more fun ideas to increase the interactivity and motivate more people to want to use the app. We included some hidden features that would encourage users to explore more and get more from the app as well as from the museum.
One of our ideas was to include missions like "Rock of the Day" where the user would receive a digital or physical award for discovering which specimen was the selected Rock of the Day.
I also wanted to include some more quirky aspects such as being able to add common items to your collection. This would encourage users to keep their phones out and stay engaged with the app even while transitioning from exhibit to exhibit.
6. Next Steps
The next steps for the NHMLA Exhibit Application would be to continue ideating and testing functions while further developing the design of the UI. We would love to work together further to create a fully working app to present to the NHMLA.