One of the most important things I've learned during my career has been that you can never do too much testing, particularly with the user.
During the User Experience Design module, we were lucky enough to work with IBM’s York team, testing the usability of one of their platforms. We were tasked with reviewing the existing system that the team had developed and their onboarding process. We then had to storyboard and show how we would alter the onboarding process to increase usability for the user.
We also had the chance to work with the Yorkshire Museum, focusing on their Roman exhibition. The brief was to create an interactive media prototype to accompany an existing artefact within the museum. The prototype had to take into account the physical and usability requirements of the museum, meaning it must fit within the flow of the museum and cater to their users.
In approaching both methods, I decided to make use of the IBM design thinking ideas that we’d been shown. This included storyboarding, empathy mapping, creating personas, etc. With the Yorkshire Museum project, I decided to do user research regarding people’s opinions on their experiences visiting museums, as well as the interactive exhibits they’ve seen. To carry out this research, I conducted questionnaires and also decided to consult TripAdvisor and view the 50 most recent reviews at the time, to see what users had to say.
The graphic generated from this can be seen below. Words in green relate to positive comments and red words represent negative comments about the feature in question.
Following on from the user research, I conducted a thematic analysis on my data, grouping all of the information that I’d received in order to attempt to construct requirements for my prototype. This was very successful; I broke all of the data down into 8 core requirements, which were used to shape my final design. It was also from the thematic analysis that I created 2 personas, representing visitors to the museum. This allowed me to have something to relate to when making decisions regarding the design. The personas represent a general analysis on visitors to the museum, their background, likes and frustrations.
I used several other creative thinking ideas such as empathy mapping, stakeholder mapping and big idea vignettes to generate ideas. By the end of the big idea vignettes task, I had 3 ideas I thought I could feasibly create. I storyboarded all the ideas to get a sense of how they would work and the functionality they would feature. Once storyboarded, I decided that I would go with my Roman Hairstyles Mirror. The next thing to think about was user interaction, and the ideal experience that I wanted to create for the user.
I therefore decided to create a user journey map for a visitor’s current experience with the artefact in its current state, followed by a user journey map with my design incorporated within the museum. This allowed me to focus on user interaction and design my prototype with usability in mind, considering what was actually missing. With a wealth of resources that I’d created, I had a reference for how I thought the user would act and feel around the museum and designed my user journey map around this.
The next step in my process was to research existing designs. I believed that it would be a good idea to see if similar projects had been created and if so, where they had succeeded and where they could be built upon. This worked well, I was able to find a number of similar projects which I was able to critique and build upon my own idea from the criticism I developed against similar projects. During this time, I also researched interactive museum exhibits and mainly tried to focus on how these exhibits were interactive. I found from this that I wanted to make sure that whatever I ended up making was something that required interactivity to function; not just something that was using interactive media, but could easily exist without interactive technologies.
Following on from my final rounds of research, I started with the creation of my prototype. I started out with sketches for the layout of my UI, wireframing different layouts with Balsamic before finally settling on the UI I thought would be best. After deciding on the UI, I paper-prototyped the design and filmed it.
With the paper-prototype designed, I decided to conduct a final piece of research by interviewing some of the employees at the Yorkshire Museum. I asked various questions about the prototype, regarding the usability, placement of information and appropriateness of the design. The feedback was used to help shape the final design. With this feedback in mind, I set out to create the prototype in Processing.
Following the conclusion of my project, I was then invited to the Yorkshire Museum to present my prototype to employees and curators. I received a lot of feedback which focused on the great potential my prototype had, as well as possibilities for further implementation with other exhibits around the museum.