ACMI is a vibrant museum constantly delivering exciting and innovative experiences in the physical and digital spaces. For every exhibition, we create an accompanying digital product to enable visitors to deep dive into content to support and enhance the physical experience. As a museum, we have a responsibility to educate and expand visitor knowledge and inspire new conversations and curiosities beyond the museum experience.
With ACMI undergoing a major building renovation in 2019-2020, the exhibition Wonderland was the perfect opportunity to experiment with new approaches and engage more deeply with our post-visit online experience.
Lack of motivation and awareness were cited as the key blockers for visitors exploring the digital offer.
What is the appetite for deeper exploration on a website and what kind of content would be most interesting?
How can we best motivate visitors to engage with a post-visit website?
When is the most effective time to communicate the post-visit?
What are the barriers and how can we fix that?
The Lost Map of Wonderland is an interactive NFC enhanced guide to the Wonderland exhibition. Hidden raspberry Pi devices in the exhibition activate animations while providing vital tracking data of our visitor's journey. The back of the map also doubled as the canvas for visitors’ creations in the activity space.
The activity was specially designed to motivate visitors to go to the post-visit. An image of their face superimposed on an irresistibly cute Wonderland card soldier was projected on the screen. We included a clear call to action to log on to the post-visit website using the unique code on each map to download their image and explore the content.
Testing how visitors use the map
Because it’s not an ‘obvious’ way of using a map, we wanted to make sure the way this had been designed made sense to visitors. In order to test our assumptions, we brought some groups of visitors into our Future Lab to do some testing. Working with the experience design teams Mosster and Sandpit, we designed, prototyped and tested the map and the card soldier activity with visitors in our testing space.
Testing the instructions was vital.
A group of users testing our cheap and dirty prototype
Visitor Journey mapping
Using a constantly updated Visitor Journey Map, I conducted quantitative and qualitative analytics to understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, direct mail, signage and induction process of the exhibition map and online post visitation. Comparing visitor data from Tessitura (ticketing system) and Google analytics gave us clear conversion data for the website and engagement with content on each page.
Analysis of data from the NFC devices and google analytics helped map out user engagement in the exhibition and dwell times. The observational analysis collected in the gallery helped explain anomalies with the data.
An example of the many different data graphs I compiled and interpreted.
In depth interview
I interviewed approximately 30 visitors on camera about their experience with the map and their appetite for a deeper online experience.
From these interviews I created a series of user personas to help understand the deeper needs of our audience.
Communicating what the post experience is on the map with a more enticing call to action is important. Insight into how the exhibition was made would be an effective option for an exhibition that is highly complex and innovative like Wonderland.
Low light in the gallery was frustrating for some visitors who were keen to read the map.
The exit of the exhibition is the most effective place to remind people about the post-visit experience. Ideally this is a person telling them but we realise this is not always possible.
There’s opportunity to take a more inclusive design approach for our English as a second language and foreign tourist audience. They are a third of our audience.
Highly visual elements and embedded videos on the website are far more popular than dense text for the audience segment attracted to Wonderland. Wall didactics and in-depth text should be an option, not a feature.
The word ‘experience’ was commonly used by our visitors. The post-visit needs to be more reflective of the experiential and interactive nature of the exhibition and the prominent audience segment.
The extra content we produce is popular with our audiences. In the new permanent exhibition, we should leverage this more by sharing our curatorial view on the moving image in new, richer, deeper, ways.
If visitors create content during an exhibition, they will want to get it later to share with family and friends. We need to make sure interactive making experiences in future exhibitions are downloadable and useful. The Cooper Hewitt’s decision to make 3D models and vector files — not just JPGs — downloadable from their interactive experiences is instructive in this regard too.
Have permanent post visit messaging in cafe and other dwell spaces.
Testing the map with users before the exhibition opened enabled us to create a tight script for the visitor services team when inducting visitors at the entrance. The onboarding of the map needed to be both quick and effective and testing prior enabled us to target the important details. An analysis of the testing conducted before opening can be found here.
After rolling out the map for the exhibition opening, three further design iterations were undertaken. The subsequent changes appear subtle but made tangible improvements to the visitor experience.
The map is very detailed with a lot to read and discover. We got early feedback that the text was too small, and in the low lighting in the gallery, it was difficult to read. And some visitors felt disappointed that they couldn’t finish it all. To allow visitors to spend more time looking at the map, we put in additional seating and lighting.
The original map design had the post-visit call to action on the front cover. Observing visitors, we discovered 68% of visitors spent up to 30 minutes designing a soldier on the back of their map, which would give them plenty of time to also take in a post-visit message. So in the next print run, we moved this information to the back cover.
The selfie soldier download offer was a fantastic motivator for visitors to log into the post-visit website with their unique code.
We had a 6% increase in visitation of the online resources from previous exhibitions and 55% of those who logged on experienced the entire website.
Working closely with the Product Manager, the learnings from the map will inform the design of the Lens which will be the central digital experience in the new museum opening in 2020.
The filmed user interviews have been distributed across ACMI's teams and have been essential in understanding how visitors plan their visit, how they define their visit, their experience from entry to exit, wayfinding issues and expectations of the post-visit experience. I have documented user stories and key findings from qualitative and quantitative research here.
We love experimenting with new tools in the museum and UX research helps us design and prototype but also appreciate the value of giving new experiences to visitors.
The Lost Map of Wonderland won a prestigious GLAMis at the 2019 Museweb conference.
User research/User testing
Quantitative & qualitative analytics