Archive

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Readily available art history

Archive is an app that was created to provide a mock art museum’s visitors with art content. Museums rarely have a designated app that allows visitors to use their own smart devices as art guides. Target users are adults of all ages who are interested in art history.

THE PROBLEM

Art museum visitors want easy access to art history

PROJECT DURATION

February 2022 to March 2022

MY ROLE

THE GOAL

Sole UX researcher and designer from conception to delivery

Design a mock art museum's designated app that can conveniently provide art history 

RESPONSIBILITIES

User research, paper and digital wireframing, low and high fidelity prototyping, conducting usability studies, accounting for accessibility, design iteration

Getting to know the user

I conducted interviews and built empathy maps to understand the users I’m designing for and their needs. A primary user group identified through this research was adults who visit art museums for cultural enrichment.

 

This user group confirmed initial assumptions about art gallery visitors, but research also revealed that convenience wasn’t that only factor limiting users from learning art history at exhibits. Other pain points included efficiency and lack of access to enough information, which further hindered users from enhancing their museum visits.

Pain points
  • Convenience. When multiple people are viewing one artwork simultaneously, visitors occasionally have to wait their turn before approaching close enough to read an art label.
     

  • Preference. Users might prefer to read a description over listening to an audio guide. 
     

  • Accessibility. Because of the text size, users could have difficulty reading the print on art labels. 

Persona

Meena is a culture enthusiast who needs a convenient resource to supplement her art interest because she wants to maximize each visit to the art museum.

User journey mapped for the Meena persona

Meena persona's goal

Early designs

Paper wireframes

Drafting out variations of Archive’s home page allowed visualization of what would best meet user needs. I focused the home page on the art history feature of the app while also providing easy access to other relevant tasks such as buying tickets and viewing a museum map.

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Asterisks indicate which features to include in initial digital wireframes

Digital wireframes

Archive’s home page prioritizes finding and exploring art.

Audios can be found through a word or QR code search

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This section allows users to browse featured audio tours

With accessibility in mind, the audio guide player includes artwork descriptions where text can be enlarged and a transcript of the audio guide for the hearing impaired or those prefer to read text.

Transcript available with this icon

(far left)

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Text size change feature for easier reading

Low fidelity prototype

The main user flow begins with finding and selecting an artwork to learn more about, then using the audio player to listen or read a transcript of the guide.

Usability study: round one

The low fidelity prototype mentioned above was tested in an unmoderated usability study.

Main findings from the first round of usability studies:

  • Search bar. The search bar did not stand out on the home page.
     

  • Audio player. Exiting the audio player was not intuitive.
     

  • Audio guides. Users had trouble determining where the beginning of the user flow was.

Refining designs

Mockups

Early designs featured a search bar that was not impressive and remained mostly unnoticeable. After the first usability study, I moved the search and scan functions to the center of the homepage as large buttons with icons for easier identification. 

Before usability study 1

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After usability study 1

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Usability study: round two

The second round of usability studies further improved the initial high fidelity design. 

Main findings from the second round:

  • Audio player. Users didn't find maximizing the audio player after it had been minimized as intuitive.
     

  • Audio search. Users didn't easily understand the function of the audio search and scan buttons.

Mockups after second usability study

As indicated by the blue box, I added an up arrow icon in the minimized audio player after the second usability study. This addition provided better indication of how the minimized audio player can return to full view.

Before usability study 2

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After usability study 2

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Home screen changes

Before usability study 2

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After usability study 2

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Screenshots of the app's main pages

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High fidelity prototype

The high fidelity prototype featured a simpler primary user flow of discovering and playing an audio guide. The main audio search and scan buttons were updated to display more prominently and the audio player transitions improved to be more intuitive.

Accessibility considerations
  1. Color palette
    I used a high contrast color palette for increased readability.

  2. Text size
    As this app is meant to provide users with art information (lots of text), I aimed to keep text at an comfortably readable size and include a text enlarger feature.

  3. Icons
    For users whose primary language isn't English, I included icons and plans for a language switch feature.

Going forward

Impact
  • Usability study participants completed all tasks with a straightforward click path.
     

  • Participant quote from a usability study:
    “This is really easy to use. My favorite is the QR method [to find audio guides]. No search involved.”

What I learned

I realized the value of conducting usability studies early in the process. Receiving feedback from participants early on allowed for designs that remained focus on the users.

Next steps

1. Testing

Conduct an additional usability study to confirm that the main user flow pain points were positively addressed and to discover if minor user flows have unaddressed pain points.

2. Ideation

Consider new features, such as switching the app's contents to that of another art museum