Identifying Your Audience


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Front end evaluation process and techniques

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Identifying Your Audience

  1. 1. Identifying Your Audience: Front End Evaluation in Exhibit Design Monica Post October 2010 Introduction How do you develop your exhibits?- Are you making assumptions? Are you making the choice for the visitor? Are you hearing select anecdotal information and basing everything on that? Are you asking your visitors what they want?... know… etc? Are you asking, listening and responding? What is Front End Evaluation? Three (or Four) types of Evaluation: 1. Front End Evaluation: At the beginning of design Find out what audience knows, vocabulary, misconceptions, how they want to learn 2. Formative Evaluation: As the project is being designed, but before it is too far to make changes. Try out prototypes and activities, make changes and try them again. Find out how the audience uses and responds to the proposed design, what are the take away messages, what needs to be changed? 3. Remedial Evaluation: After the exhibit is complete… maybe before audiences come in, maybe not. Finding what doesn’t work and fixing what you can. May be as simple as changing a light bulb, tightening a screw or moving a sign. This is not intended for major changes- those should have been caught in formative. You do remedial so that you aren’t paying someone to tell you that “no one read that sign because the light was burned out”. Sometime when an exhibit has been in place for a while and ready for an overhaul, I might be hired to conduct remedial evaluation. In this case they know the space isn’t working and they want specifics regarding why because they will be changing the space and the study will advise the changes. This is a semantics issue: studying the existing space for the purpose of making changes could be classified as front end- because it is before the new exhibit is being designed and the study will advise the design. It can also be considered formative because it is an exhibit that is being tested and anticipated to see changes. In this case the old exhibit acts like a prototype.. Or it could be summative- we are studying a completed exhibit to determine the message outcomes and how people use the space. No matter what you want to call this type of remedial evaluation, (it probably should have a totally different name), it is great that the museum has the foresight and ability to do the testing. MPR Museum Consulting October 2010 Monica Post
  2. 2. 4. Summative Evaluation happens after the exhibit is open, visitors are coming in,burned out light bulbs have been replaced and all the fixes that are going to be made,have been made. Summative evaluation is not intended to improve the exhibit, it isintended to measure how well it works. Its like a college final exam. You aren’t going toimprove after taking the exam, that’s not its intent. Summative evaluation measures theexhibit take away messages. What visitors feel, what they did, how they behaved, whatthey are leaving the space with. (You can’t necessarily say… what they learned, unlessyou know what they entered the exhibit knowing and then measure what they leftknowing). Cognitive gain can be measured in a summative evaluation, but that has to beaddressed specifically.Back to Front End• Front End Evaluation is research conducted at the beginning of the planning process.• Data gathered during the front end process advises and guides the interpretation content and delivery.• While there is still time to make changes, but not so early that you don’t have any information or details that you can give to participants.The earlier the better……. sort of. Better late than never.Step 1 What do you want to know / or need to find out? • What your visitors already know vocabulary misconceptions • Attitudes and Emotions • What your visitors want to know how much do they want to know? • How do they want to learn it? do it? read it? watch it? listen to it? • What do you already know about your audience? demographicsMPR Museum Consulting October Monica Post
  3. 3. vocabularyStep 2 How are you going to find out? Lots of methods to choose from Literature review Surveys Interviews Post it surveys Observation of existing spaces Focus groups Concept MappingKey point: Usually you will need to use more than one methodStep 3 How to Design your study what works for who? general visitors- interviews, surveys, post it surveys target audiences- focus groups school groups new audiences your visitors your members your boardStep 4 How to Write a Front End Interview Start with a Topic or even better: The Big Idea Anticipated vocabulary Misconceptions? Level of Interest Type of delivery methods Types of Questions open, closed, scale, ranking Length of Interview Demographics- ! Remember the purpose ! The demographics are here to make sure your sample is representative of your audience. Not to determine who your audience is.MPR Museum Consulting October Monica Post
  4. 4. Only ask questions that you will act on.Respect and recognize participants’ time – so keep it shortThink about your audience - No wrong answers Leading questions- have a place- probably not in front end evaluationStep 5 How to Conduct the InterviewProcedure for collecting data (Front End Interview)Equipment: Clipboard or notebook, pens or pencils, a small notepad1. Determine an imaginary line where you are recruiting people. (We have done thisalready as a group). Pick every fifth person who crosses that imaginary line to approachabout participating in this interview- or the next person after you’ve finished with thefirst. Random selection criteria: The accuracy of the data is dependant on getting a realistic sample of the audience in this space. For this reason, it is very important to follow the criteria list below. You will be approaching every fifth person. If, while you are talking with a participant, more than five people slip by, that is O.K. – approach the next person. Do not avoid approaching someone because they “look like” they might not want to: or any other reason. If you avoid approaching someone because they look like they might be in a hurry, or you think that he/she wouldn’t want to participate, then you are introducing your bias into the data. That will skew the data and change the outcome. Approach everyone that fits the criteria- every fifth person over age 8. You should not interview anyone who looks as though they are not old enough to read – around 8 years old. In other words- if your fifth person is a toddler –go to the next person. If your fifth person looks to be around ten years old- approach that person. If the person is a child – approach them cautiously speaking loud enough for the accompanying adult to hear and ask the adult if it is o.k. for the child to participate in the interview.- You will have to use your judgement and ability to work with children and their parents here. Do not avoid asking children just because it is a pain or you are uncomfortable – that would bias the data. Do not recruit more than one person in a group- (even if there are more than 11), you will get a bias. Do not give away a gift to anyone who has not completed an interview.2. Use this recruiting statement:MPR Museum Consulting October Monica Post
  5. 5. Hello, Excuse me. We are working on a new exhibit and would like to get some feedbackfrom our visitors. Would you be willing to answer a few questions that will help usdevelop a new exhibit? It should take less than 5 minutes. Do not pause before completing the final sentence. 3. If the visitor says “yes” Begin asking the questions as they are written.Write down the visitor responses using their words as best as possible.Do not instruct, correct or influence them before the interview.Do not help them with the interview. For example if they say “I want to learn about thatmachine that … you know, picks corn- what’s that thing called?” Be very slow torespond. Like you have amnesia also. Then if that doesn’t work, respond with ananswer like “Oh, that slips my mind also- I’ll write it down as you’ve described it.4. If the visitor asks a question or wants to discuss something, politely say somethinglike: ‘Let’s go ahead and finish this and then I’ll be happy to tell you more about that.”Step 6 How to Analyze the DataDon’t start analysis until you have all the data for one method of studyGive each instrument a numberEnter data into the computer If using a word processing program: don’t auto numberWhen all the data is entered, this is your rough compilation.Now you need to go over each answer and find commonalities.For example: For question #1 you notice that 4 people used the “creepy”(Please forgive the indentation: I can’t get my computer to get rid of it suddenly.)Create a “Creepy” subheading and put the 4 people who used that word and put their complete answer under that subheadingParticipant number 12 may have used the word “creepy” and “cute” in their answer. They will be represented under both sub categories.When the data for each question has been compiled this is your final compilation. You will use this to analyze your data.So for your analysis you may note that 27% of the visitors used the word “creepy” in their answer to question 1. This is information that the designer can use to develop theirMPR Museum Consulting October Monica Post
  6. 6. layout and messages. Does “creepy” need to be addressed? …. probably how? It depends on the purpose of the exhibit…. Do you want the exhibit to feel creepy…or safe?MPR Museum Consulting October Monica Post