Evaluating visitor experience in foyers


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This presentation summarises the visitor evaluation from the installations carried out as part of the AHRC Transforming Thresholds Project at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology (effect of image and sound) and New Walk Museum and Art Gallery Leicester (effect on invisible theatre).

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  • In preparation for this project, we carried out a small survey of visitors at one of the museums who became a partner in the project (New Walk).From these survey responses, we identified four aspects of visitor needs that seemed to be particularly heightened and most relevant to the threshold space:For Wayfinding (two aspects: am I in the right place (have I found the right building/way in?) and forward looking: how do I get to....)For understanding the rules of the space (are there actions that are prohibited – eg. Entry without a ticket, taking photographs, carrying bags etc)Information about the museum (understanding its identity at a general level, but also the specifics of the exhibits and events on offer)For ambience (the subtle, subjective factors relating to whether the visitor felt welcomed or their intellectual curiosity was aroused)
  • Petrie image maybe turns your attention on - link to name of the museum
  • So it seemed that we have a hint that the images were acting as a ‘taster’: giving preliminary contentThat the images were also functioning to activate expectation ‘turn your attention on’That it worked to locate the collection in time (a transition from the modern world)And had a function in wayfinding/information (knowing the name of the museum)
  • When we asked visitors to describe how the sounds they had heard on the stairs had helped to prepare them, their responses fell into two categories:Some responded with comments that evoked atmosphere (seemed to be meeting the need for ambience)Others responded more with comments that picked up on the ways that sound indexed particular content (and so gave information).
  • Picking up here on the immersion associated with performance (put you in a different space)And also to generate curiosity (a sense of exploration)
  • Again the sound acted as means of indexing themes: Egyptian archeologyAnd acted to mark a point of transformation (space and time)And also functioned to help affirm way finding
  • Item that appeared most = quote 3Item that appeared least = Petrie Logo
  • More of the visitors in this sample reported remembering the Door sign and the 1st Quote than those who had those items appear in the viewfinder of the Looxcie footage for their journeyIt is not a one-to-one match: some of the people who ‘saw’ it did not report it, some people who ‘reported’ it did not ‘see’ the item in question.
  • Compared with Week 1, where we saw proportionately more visitors reporting their memory of seeing items more than those items appearing in the Looxcie view finder, the data from Week 2 is rather different.There was only one instance (Petrie Logo) where there were more survey reports of remembering items than those items appearing in the Looxcie viewfinder.Instead, the opposite happens and there are 7 items where the item appeared more frequently in the Looxcie viewfinder than when the visitors said they remembered seeing the item (Quote 1, Quote 2, Pottery Fragment, Petrie on his dig, Egyptian spoons, Stelae frieze, Gold Jewellery).Admittedly, this could be because of the very ‘rough and ready’ nature of the recording. I.e. The recording is picking up items which are approximately in the view of the visitor, without showing more precisely where their gaze is positioned.When we look more closely at the time people looked at the items which were ‘seen’ but not remembered’ we can observe two things:The two items not reported at all in the survey (Egyptian Spoons and the Gold Jewellery) were both small items (postcard size or 10 cm)For both these items, they appeared in the viewfinder for less than 1 second: there is no indication of any dwell time here.
  • When we look more closely at the time people looked at the items which were ‘seen’ but not remembered’ we can observe two things:The two items not reported at all in the survey (Egyptian Spoons and the Gold Jewellery) were both small items (postcard size or 10 cm)Also these items were not clearly in the visitor’s sight line (they were quite low on the wall)They are not high in salience (e.g. they are not indexing ‘Egyptian archeology’ in a prominent way)For both these items, they appeared in the viewfinder for less than 1 second: there is no indication of any dwell time here.This perhaps picks up on themes from the visitor survey too: that preferred choices were for larger size images
  • The
  • We also might notice that these items were large (though not the largest) – both were at A1 size.They were also positioned in the stairwell at points in the visitor’s sight line (so immediately to the right when they turned up the second flight of stairs) and at the top of that flight of stairs (a more natural pause point on the last landing before the visitors went into the gallery).There is higher salience in these images (though again, not the most).But Quote 3 was in the ‘most frequently remembered’ category (while the Petrie on site) was not.
  • Evaluating visitor experience in foyers

    1. 1. Evaluating Visitor Experience in Museum Foyers AHRC Research Network: Transforming Thresholds Dr Ruth Page and Dr Ross Parry, University of Leicester
    2. 2. Rationale for the project • Museum Foyers are significant spaces – For visitors’ onsite engagement – For museums to establish their identity • But we don’t know that much about them – Academic research – How visitors perceive and behave in them
    3. 3. Transforming Thresholds as a collaborative project • Academics – Different disciplines – Different institutions and research centres • Museum partners – Different scale of Museum (Museum of London; British Museum; Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery; Leicestershire Arts and Museums; Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archeology) • Commercial partners
    4. 4. Aims of the project • share and develop emerging fieldwork about visitor experience in a range of foyers to identify core principles for scaffolding visitors’ first on-site experience of museums • develop methodology for measuring visitor behaviour in threshold spaces
    5. 5. Can we draw on ideas from • Eye-gaze • Market research • Product development Retail E-learning • What do people learn? Gaming Performance • Reviews • Audience engagement
    6. 6. Complex range of visitor needs in the foyer
    7. 7. ‘Evaluation’ from different perspectives • Purpose of the evaluation – As part of the design process • Gaming – beta testing • Film – director’s interventions – As market research • Retail – As ‘academic’ projects • How do people use technologies? And how can this knowledge help improve the technology/space • Visitor experience • Gathering v. Eliciting techniques
    8. 8. Challenges of using eliciting techniques in foyers • Surveys, polls, interviews, comments forms • Thresholds may not be a place to dwell to answer questions – Health and safety issues – Transactions that *need* to take place are more important (purchasing tickets, security checks) – Visitor has not experienced enough of the museum space to answer any questions – Their attention is on where they are going, not where they are
    9. 9. Challenges of using observation techniques in foyers • Where to position cameras or observers? • If you are using eye-tracking glasses (or similar) you have to put these on/calibrate them before the visitor enters the space – Recruit in advance? – Observers’ paradox? • Restrictions on the GPS (works outside) but inaccuracy of RFID tagging (inside) • Ethics of covert recording
    10. 10. Research design • What you want to find out determines the methods you need to do the research  • Our project has been trying to – Find out more about visitor experience in different foyers – Evaluate our evaluation tools • Used a range of eliciting and observation methods in three museum entrance spaces • As much to find out what kinds of evaluation tools were useful as developing fieldwork
    11. 11. Case study #1: Petrie museum
    12. 12. Main questions • Could we prepare visitors better for entering the gallery space by adding thematically appropriate images and sound to the stairwell? • What was role did the images play in preparing visitors? • What role did the soundscape play in preparing visitors?
    13. 13. Evaluating the impact on visitor experience • Survey – pre-installation and post-installation – surveys completed mid-visit – Mixture of quantitative and qualitative questions • Visitors wore a mobile camcorder – Inspired by eye-tracking research from retail – pre-installation and post-installation – What information could we gather about what people actually looked at and their dwell time
    14. 14. What we hoped to do but did not • Test whether there was an actual impact on how visitors engaged with gallery exhibits • -iSwipe polling stations • Visitors could vote – Which of these objects do you remember seeing a picture of on the stairs? • What went wrong – The owner of the iSwipes did not leave them with a power supply or stands!
    15. 15. A snapshot
    16. 16. Analysis of the visitor response • Survey data was collated • Qualitative responses were coded – Sentiment – Themes • Respondents and results from the Survey
    17. 17. Who did we interview? • • • • • • 41 visitors (week 1 – 33% of the footfall) 45 visitors (week 2 – 30% of the footfall) 83.5% were first time visitors Week 1: Women (63%), Men (37%) Week 2: Women (49%), Men (51%) Purpose for visit – Entertainment (37%); Research (17%); Unplanned (27%)
    18. 18. Sentiment analysis (Description of stairwell as a whole) 70% 60% 50% 40% Positive 30% Negative Neutral 20% 10% 0% Week 1 Week 2
    19. 19. Sample responses (pre-installation) • It was dark and narrow, I was looking at the steps • Very utilitarian, like the back stairs to an office. You just watch the stairs. • Depressing, unwelcoming, totally unexciting • Sparse, you would expect a facsimile or a hieyroglyph. I was not sure I was even going the right way
    20. 20. Themes in the pre-installation feedback 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0
    21. 21. Other suggestions • Themes of transit • Utility – function on the stairwell as a functional space • Anticipation – Images/quotes might generate some expectation • Attention – Desire to look v. Not being able to stop and look
    22. 22. What did people remember seeing? Week 1 Petrie's portrait 8% Quote 2 22% Quote 1 23% Door sign 30% Petrie Logo 17%
    23. 23. What did people remember seeing? Week 2 Stalae frieze, 11 Gold jewellery, 5 Egyptian spoons, 7 Door sign, 25 Pottery fragment, 25 Petrie on dig, 23 Petrie Logo, 22 Quote 1, 24 Petrie's portrait, 31 Quote 2, 29
    24. 24. A shift in salience?
    25. 25. How well did the images/signs prepare you? 45% 40% 35% 30% 1 (very well) 25% 2 20% 3 15% 4 10% 5 (not at all) 5% 0% Week 1 Week 2
    26. 26. How did the images help prepare you? (Week 2 responses) • We knew what we were coming to see. It was good to have something to make the transition from the modern world to research • Petrie image maybe turns your attention on link to name of the museum • Looked as though the collection had spilled down the stairs. Good as intro, bad as liminal experience
    27. 27. Additional themes • Positive comments – Suggestions that they were helping the visitors to ‘look better’ – Role of images in confirming the identity of the museum • Negative comments – Resistance to the use of the space as a ‘canvas’ • Neutral comments – Experience of stairwell as a space (links with utility theme)
    28. 28. Reactions to the images (Week 2 responses) 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Positive Negative Neutral
    29. 29. Did you notice the sound? No 44% Yes 56%
    30. 30. Sentiment in responses to sound 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Positive Negative Neutral
    31. 31. How did the sound help prepare you? Practicalities 4% Information 29% Ambience 67%
    32. 32. Quotes: relating sounds to ambience • I really liked them. They get you into the right mood • There was a sense of exploration/adventure, it was good not to be too prescriptive, discovering museum on ones own, sounds were discreet • Sense of theatricality, put you in a different space
    33. 33. Quotes: relating sounds to information • It made me think of.... – A dig in Egypt – Like being in a pyramid – Nile scenes • Confirmed I was in correct place - archaeology museum • Music instantly said 'this is what you are here to see,' geographical and temporal location, gave an idea of what you were coming to see
    34. 34. Themes in responses • Sound as evoking content – Egyptian / archeology • Sound as evoking emotion – Reassuring/relaxing/calming • Evidence of immersion/flow • Capacity to generate a sense of space – Imagined spaces (markets, Nile etc) – Physical spaces (museum and its gallery)
    35. 35. How would I do the survey differently? • Carry out evaluation in separate phases – No image, no sound – Just sound added – Just images added – Both image and sound added • Other information we should have captured – Were visitors on their own or in a group • General principles: matching the questions more exactly, limitations of Likert scales
    36. 36. Other technical adjustments • Monitor the noise level during the experiment for the following conditions: – unoccupied but with the soundscape, – occupied with the soundscape, – occupied without the soundscape. • With data for these conditions we could have scientifically excluded responses from samples where the occupational noise exceeded the soundscape by a known / set threshold.
    37. 37. Participants for the Looxcie footage • Recruited in advance • Five in week 1 (one no show, one the recording cut out half way through) • Seven in week 2 • Unanticipated issues – Although I asked people to book appointments, several turned up at the same time – They did not want to take the Looxcie off! – Difficult for those wearing glasses
    38. 38. Coding process • Looxcie footage was edited using Windows Media Player • Data coded – time taken to walk through stairwell, – approximate direction of gaze – visual stimulus in the line of vision collated • Cross referenced against the survey results from the same participants
    39. 39. Data from the video footage • Speed of moving through the stairwell – Week 1: average time 25.4 seconds – Week 2: average time 34.6 seconds • Overall direction of gaze – Week 1: 80% looked down to the stairs – Week 2: 85% looked up at the walls
    40. 40. Frequency of items seen through Looxcie 120 100 80 60 40 Week 1 20 0 Week 2
    41. 41. ‘Seen’ v. ‘Remembered’ items (Week 1) 120 100 80 60 Looxcie Survey 40 20 0 Door Sign Petrie Logo Quote 1 Quote 3
    42. 42. ‘Seen’ v. ‘Remembered’ (Week 2) 100 90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 Looxcie Survey
    43. 43. ‘Seen’ but not ‘remembered’
    44. 44. But is size everything? • Biggest discrepancy between ‘seen’ (86%) and ‘remembered’ (14%) • Produced at A1 size • Positioned on the second landing
    45. 45. Stelae in situ
    46. 46. Dwell time (rough!) • Items which appeared in the viewfinder for >1 second more often than <1 second • Week 1 – Door sign • Week 2 – Quote 1 – Quote 3 – Petrie on his Dig • How do you interpret that? • A difference in ‘functional’ viewing and ‘image’ focused viewing?
    47. 47. Interpretation? • Evidence of under-stimulation (the overreporting of recalled images in week 1) • Evidence of design overload (the underreporting of recalled images in week 2) • Embodied experience of looking – Rhythm – Head alignment
    48. 48. Week 2 items with highest ‘dwell’ time
    49. 49. What I would do differently • • • • • Use proper eye-tracking glasses Calibrate it all properly Select sample more carefully Interview participants about what they saw Compare it with footage taken from in the gallery spaces
    50. 50. Evaluation of the ‘Museum Players’ New Walk Museum and Art Gallery
    51. 51. Key question • Would the presence of actors ‘performing’ improvised roles of the ‘engaged visitor’ influence visitor behaviour?
    52. 52. Evaluation tools • • • • Survey (pilot study questionnaire in 2011) Hand-drawn maps of visitor flow Field notes What we wanted to do but did not... – Video footage captured by cameras worn by the actors – Problems with ethics and covert recording
    53. 53. Hand drawn maps
    54. 54. Collating the maps (manually) • Pilot study – 237 people walked through (1/3) – 461 people took a pathway with at least one dwell point or a movement away from the main thoroughfare.
    55. 55. Visitor Flow during visit Straight through Deviation No actor Individual Actor 66% 33% 37% 63% No actor Group of Actors 64% 36% 61% 39%
    56. 56. What we would do differently • Digitally enabled production of the visitor routes? – Collected straight onto an iPad or tablet • Digitally enabled analysis – Scanning multiple maps to establish dominant pathways
    57. 57. Results: Field notes • On several occasions we witnessed unequivocally, the Museum Players influence visitors by simple non-verbal communication in the form of modeling and copying. Visitors would be distracted by what they were doing or from their set path by the Player standing still and reading the signs. We saw clearly the visitor follow the modelling activity of the Player turning their head towards the stairs and then copy another Player who went up the stairs.
    58. 58. More field notes • When the Players with instructions to seek interaction with visitors did so, there were also interesting results. The more gregarious of our Players politely approached a visitor in the foyer who was about to exit the foyer into the museum. The visitor was asked about a certain gallery and as they didn’t know the answer the visitor paused before indicating that the reception desk might help. The visitor accompanied our Player to the desk and made sure they got an answer. Instead of then carrying on their original path into the museum, the visitor paused, turned back to the desk and proceeded to ask several other questions. Of course, perhaps our absent minded visitor had intended to do this all along but it is easy to see how this visitor may have been unobtrusively aided by our Player.
    59. 59. Survey responses (New Walk) • Increase in words relating to ambience (welcome, bright) and information • But....a very small sample size