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Tate Discoveries

A native mobile application providing interactive tours at the Tate Modern Gallery. 

The problem

Tate Modern is Britain's national gallery of international modern art and is in fact, one of the largest of its kind in the world. Its mission is to promote the public understanding and enjoyment of British, modern and contemporary art. However, the gallery's current physical experience for visitors does not aid or encourage discovery, with a confusing layout and navigation.

My team was set a concept brief to design a highly engaging digital experience for Tate visitors.

The toughest challenge

The brief suggested looking into profile-based suggestions. Yet, our research showed that many users found art impossible to categorise. Additionally, the Tate does not curate its exhibitions by artist or type but by theme.

 

After several usability tests,  we decided to remove the categories and profiles altogether. Instead we focused on designing a few highly-engaging, curated tours.

Client
Tate Modern (Concept Project)
UXDI Course (General Assembly)

Timeline

2 week sprint 

Team

Zena Zerai

Ella Sloper

Federico Olmeda

Martin Robertson

My Role & Tasks

User Researcher & Designer​

5 user interviews,

2 guerrilla interviews with

Tate staff,

Designed low-mid-fidelity wireframes,

10 usability tests (1 guerrilla

test at the Tate),

Facilitator for team presentation

Outcome

We were able to design an interactive native mobile application.  The app suggested exhibitions for visitors to see, whilst enabling them to easily navigate the gallery. It also allowed them to enjoy an enhanced experience at the Tate.

 

The app incorporated AR technology ideas, an avatar, map, virtual guided tours, interactive activities and a social sharing feature. 

Read the in-depth case study below

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Discover

Site Visit

Competitor Analysis

Website Audit

Screener Survey

User InterviewsGuerila interviews

Define

Affinity Mapping

Personas

Scenarios

Problem Statement

User Experience Map

User Flows

Develop

Design Studio 

Feature Prioritisation

Paper Prototypes

Mid-fidelity Wireframes

Clickable Prototypes

Usability Tests

Guerrilla Testing

Deliver

High Fidelity Prototype

Presentation

Analysing the competition

We were keen to learn what other museums and galleries were doing to create highly engaging experiences for visitors. This would enable us to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the Tate's competitors, in addition to spotting any potential opportunities for our app.

Observations

  • The majority of apps were aimed at children or catered to short-term exhibitions.

Opportunities

  • None aided discovery or navigation.

  • None represented the whole gallery.

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Science Museum 'Treasure Hunters' app aimed at children

Seeing the Tate in action

As a group we went to the Tate to observe the space and visitors in action, while conducting  guerrilla interviews with visitors and staff.

 

Observations prove to be extremely valuable, as what users say, doesn't always correlate to what they do. 

  • Taking photos | This was common with all visitors.

  • Small Text Descriptions | Visitors needed to crowd around art to read the descriptions.

  • Unclear Navigation | This meant visitors repeated sections of exhibitions.

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Identifying our users

In order to find out more about users experiences and frustrations when visiting galleries, we sent out a screener survey and conducted in depth contextual inquiry interviews. We targeted those users we knew had visited galleries and museums or had an interest in culture. 

75 Screener participants

17 User Interviews

60% visit Tate a few times a year

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Spotting trends

We synthesised all of our research with a process called affinity mapping.  This enabled us to identify patterns and common pain points.

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"If there’s an interactive element it makes it more enjoyable"

"I want a lovely afternoon and to have gained some kind of knowledge"

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Defining our user

We identified two very different personas, the 'Culture Vulture' and 'Social Visitor'. Eventually we focused on the Social Visitor, Hannah, as her characteristics were most prevalent in our user research.

Creating a persona, helped us to focus on the user and avoid letting our desire for features override the users' needs.

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Defining the problem

From here we were able to construct a problem statement  for our persona Hannah, ensuring further direction and purpose to our designs.

Hannah wants to go to the Tate with her friends. However, she doesn't know what to see and feels frustrated.

Hannah needs a way to guide her discovery of art around the Tate. 

Designing the happy path

We then designed a user flow of the happy path for Hannah.  This helped us map out the key actions she would need to take within the app to solve the problem statement and which screens to design first.

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Sketching solutions

We held a design studio, where  we sketched out various solutions to our problem statement. We then followed this with a feature prioritisation, deciding on those features with the highest impact and the lowest effort for our MVP.

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My sketches from the design studio

Testing our designs

Wireframes were created to represent the content on each screen and create early low-fidelity, clickable prototypes to test with users.

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User flow screens for 2nd prototype

Guerilla testing

We conducted several rounds of usability tests and took our mid-fidelity clickable prototype to the Tate and local cafes to do some guerrilla usability tests.

 

Here we gained some really valuable insights, particularly from Tate visitors on what users liked about our app  and where it needed improving.

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Preference Page Challenge

The brief asked us to look into creating profile's and suggestions within the app. However, on testing, we found many users didn’t know how to describe art.  Consequently, they would get stuck on the preference screen, unable to choose categories and  left feeling dumb.

 

We made the decision to remove the categories altogether. Instead, focusing on designing tours that were interesting enough to entice users, but not so complex as to overwhelm them. 

Final design
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Filtering | We removed the categories, instead offering a limited selection of tours.​ Filtering by price only.

Summary | Visual enticement, for users to get a sense of the exhibition.

Map | Expandable map provided an easy way for users to locate themselves in relation to the exhibition, while in the gallery.

Avatar | Familiar tone of the avatar, encourages users to follow along with the tour.

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Tour Page

Tour   | Users wanted the app to take them straight to the first activity rather than view a summary list.

Activities  | We included fun interactive AR features, as users found this more engaging.

Routing  |  Users wanted a structure to their route but were concerned of missing activities. This feature shows where they are in relation to the next activity.

Completion bar | This gives users a sense of how far along they are in the tour.

Conclusion

Overall we were happy with what we produced as a team. I was able to contribute to the research, usability testing and wireframe creation on Sketch, whilst learning new skills from the graphic designer on the team.

What I learned

  • If the product includes something visual (e.g.  artwork), it's important to let those visuals sing. Keep a simple design throughout to let the artwork shine. 

  • Research is important for not only understanding the causes of users' frustrations but also users' motivations. In this case users weren't motivated by being rewarded points but by furthering their knowledge of art.

Next Steps

There were lots of ideas that could be incorporated to make the application really engaging. 

  • Multiple language options for tourists.

  • Additional accessibility, including audio navigation/description

  • Feature to save tour information for later reference.

Thanks for reading!

If you'd like to learn more about the project or just have a chat, please feel free to send me an email.