A Rubric for Assessing the UX of Online Museum Collections: Preliminary Findings and Future Directions


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The increasing popularity of the Web and the proliferation of mobile technologies have had a tremendous impact on museums. The deployment of new technology into physical museum spaces has greatly enhanced the in-person museum experience, but efforts to improve the virtual museum experience have been less successful. This lightning talk describes our preliminary efforts to develop and validate a user experience (UX) assessment rubric for online museum collections. Drawing from existing research and current interface design and usability best practices, this rubric provides a set of criteria for assessing the extent to which an online museum collection provides a positive user experience for online visitors. Future research directions will be presented alongside the results from an initial pilot study.

Presented at the 2014 Museums and the Web conference in Baltimore, MD.

Published in: Design, Technology, Education
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  • Nice! I've dreamt of working with museum(kids, science mainly) and creating engaging, holistic experiences using class and progressive UX strategies. What I keep hearing is that so many institutions are busy fundraising and generally being non-profits that they aren't up on the latest technologies or that internal politics tend to get in the way of creating truly awesome experiences. Don't know if that rings true for you.

    Anyway, keep me in mind if you ever need Contract UX help. I'm in Denver.

    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
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A Rubric for Assessing the UX of Online Museum Collections: Preliminary Findings and Future Directions

  1. 1. A Rubric for Assessing the User Experience (UX) of Online Museum Collections Preliminary Findings and Future Directions Craig M. MacDonald, Ph.D. Seth Persons Samantha Raddatz Irene Lopatovska, Ph.D. Pratt Institute, School of Information and Library Science Lightning Talk | Museums and the Web 2014
  2. 2. The Museum Experience The proliferation web, mobile and cloud computing has had a tremendous impact on museums. Interactive displays, mobile tour guides, and a wealth of other digital technologies have greatly enhanced the in- person museum experience for millions of people. 2
  3. 3. The Virtual Museum Experience Resources have been invested in: digitizing materials providing access to these materials via the web enhancing websites with: •  3-D/virtual reality •  Personalization •  Social communities 3
  4. 4. But are virtual users engaged? Most online users show relatively little interest in the digital collections and they still use museum websites primarily for planning their visit to the museum1. Facilitating museum visits is a worthy goal of a museum website -- but can they do more? Can museums provide a rich and engaging experience for their virtual users? An experience that rivals the in-person experience but also stands on its own in a unique and memorable way. 41 Haynes & Zambonini, 2007; Fantoni & Stein, 2012
  5. 5. More than just usability Providing a usable website has always been a goal for museums. A website should be easy to use and easy to learn, for both novices and experts. But, usability alone is no longer sufficient; a well-designed website must address the entire User Experience (UX). Online museums cannot simply provide access to their digital materials; they must also provide positive emotional outcomes for their users. 5
  6. 6. UX of Online Museum Collections In this research, we set out to answer a simple question: What does it mean for an online museum collection to provide a “good” user experience? Why “collections?” Because people visit a museum to see its collection; a museum’s collection is what sets it apart and makes it unique from other museums. •  Physical and architectural features are also important, but these factors are not part of the virtual experience. 6
  7. 7. A Framework for Online Collections 7 Dimensions of User Enjoyment 1.  Engagement 2.  Positive Affect 3.  Fulfillment Design Principles 1.  Multisensory learning experiences 2.  Creating a storyline 3.  Mood building 4.  Fun in learning 5.  Establishing social interaction SOURCES: 1)  Lin, C.H., Fernandez, W., & Gregor, S. (2012). Understanding web enjoyment experiences and informal learning: A study in a museum context. Decision Support System, 53, 846-858. 2)  Lin, C. H., Gregor, S., & Ewing, M. (2009). Understanding the Nature of Online Emotional Experiences: A Study of Enjoyment as a Web Experience. In Proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Electronic Commerce (ICEC 2009), Taipei, Taiwan. Design Characteristics 1.  Novelty 2.  Harmonization 3.  No time constraint 4.  Appropriate facilitation and association
  8. 8. Testing Lin et al.’s Framework 1.  Novelty 2.  Harmonization 3.  No time constraint 4.  Appropriate facilitations and associations 5.  Multi-sensory learning experiences 6.  Creating a storyline 7.  Mood building 8.  Fun in learning 9.  Establishing social interaction 8
  9. 9. Testing Lin et al.’s Framework 1.  Novelty 2.  Harmonization 3.  No time constraint 4.  Appropriate facilitations and associations 5.  Multi-sensory learning experiences 6.  Creating a storyline 7.  Mood building 8.  Fun in learning 9.  Establishing social interaction 9 Not quite; we developed our own interpretation of each dimension that no longer matched the original concept.
  10. 10. Toward A UX Framework UX = cognition + emotion Don Norman: Three Levels of Design 1.  Visceral How it looks, feels, and/or sounds; beauty 2.  Behavioral How it works; function and understandability 3.  Reflective What it means; self-image, memories, messages 10
  11. 11. Strength of Visual Content Artwork is presented as the primary focus of the collection, with images as the dominant visual element. All images are large and high quality. Text is used purposefully but sparingly to enhance the visual content. 11 Visceral
  12. 12. Visual Aesthetics Color, graphics, typography, and other non-interactive interface elements are harmonious and used consistently. Elicits affective reactions that are universally positive. 12 Visceral
  13. 13. Usefulness of Metadata Metadata structure is purposefully designed to enhance users’ ability to find and learn about artworks. Includes novel metadata facets that offer innovative ways to browse, search, and filter artworks. 13 Behavioral
  14. 14. Interface Usability Interface is intuitive and accessible. Interface elements are easy to locate and easy to use, creating a seamless and immersive interaction between the user and the collection. 14 Behavioral
  15. 15. Support for Casual Users Primarily provides basic content and functionality for casual users. Advanced features are visible but unobtrusive, which encourages learnability for casual users. Allows for a seamless transition between casual browsing and advanced research. 15 Behavioral
  16. 16. Uniqueness of Virtual Experience Virtual museum experience is entirely different from the physical museum experience. Finding and viewing virtual artworks allows for new and insightful perspectives that would not be possible in the physical museum. 16 Reflective
  17. 17. Openness Users are given complete control over the content, with clearly marked options to download, print, and/or save high- quality images. 17 Reflective
  18. 18. Integration of Social Features Encourages varying levels of participation within a virtual community, of which the museum is an active participant. Social tools are prominently integrated into the collection. Provides multiple options for sharing and communicating with others, both internally and externally. 18 Reflective
  19. 19. Personalization of Experience Allows users to craft dynamic personal experiences with few, if any, limitations. Integrates robust customization, gaming, and/or other innovative personalization features. Inspires users to be active co- creators of their virtual museum experience. 19 Reflective
  20. 20. UX Assessment Rubric Visceral 1.  Strength of visual content 2.  Visual aesthetics Behavioral 3.  Usefulness of metadata 4.  Interface usability 5.  Support for casual users Reflective 6.  Uniqueness of virtual experience 7.  Openness 8.  Integration of social features 9.  Personalization of experiences 20 1 Incomplete 2 Beginning 3 Developing 4 Emerged
  21. 21. Pilot Results: Museum A 21
  22. 22. Pilot Results: Museum B 22
  23. 23. Next Steps Additional development of the rubric, including soliciting feedback from museum and UX professionals Validation studies with both museum and UX professionals Case studies: is this rubric actually useful for museums? How can it be used to drive UX improvements? 23
  24. 24. Thank you Craig M. MacDonald, Ph.D. cmacdona@pratt.edu @CraigMMacDonald www.craigmacdonald.com