In July 2017, I wrote an essay about how the product development team worked alongside the Museum’s learning team to improve the digital offering for schools and young audiences on the website. Below is an excerpt from the essay on our process:
My team and I used the first workshop with the SYA team to gather their perspectives and understand what they saw as key challenges for delivering content to young audiences. We then went through our huge data bank of user research from the last two years, pulling out key user stories and journeys from our young families and school audiences. Over the last two years, we have amassed insights into how people use digital products on-site, and how they use our online platforms to plan their visits.
This is a good time to note that doing user research in the Museum is extremely easy, in comparison to doing it in other industries. Our users are directly outside our offices and since most of them are on holiday, it is very likely that you can politely ask them for a bit of their time to test out a prototype or answer a few questions regarding their visit. This level of contact with our visitors is brilliant, and we feel confident that we know what works and what doesn’t work for them.
After we worked through a few concepts and wireframes, we presented our work to the SYA team via the second and third collaborative workshops. The structure for these sessions was mainly us presenting our user journeys and wireframes and then discussing what was working and what needed improvement. During these sessions, both primary and secondary school teachers were also invited to provide feedback and shed some light on how they would approach our website and carry out some of the key tasks. We found the participation of both the SYA team and the teachers to be extremely helpful in developing the user experience. We gathered new insights and tailored content in a way that made sense for teachers visiting our Museum. The act of designing any digital product for a particular built environment means that the approach would slightly vary between cultural institutions, thus making the experience feel entirely unique to the British Museum.
One of the exciting moments from this engagement with the SYA team was when I received an email from a member of that team including some of their own sketched wireframes! These educators, with zero professional design experience, took it upon themselves to think creatively through user journeys and produce designs that reflected that. I was impressed that some teams in the Museum were starting to embrace new ways of working creatively.
The final essay will be published alongside other museum innovation stories in the upcoming Museum Ideas Vol. 3 by Museum-iD.
Image credit: © Benedict Johnson