Timeline: February 2023 - April 2023 (8 weeks)
Role: Researcher and Designer
Tools: Figma, Otter AI (transcribe user interviews)
Constraints: Project needed to be completed in 8 weeks and the solution had to be a mobile experience
To address declining visitor attendance at New York City art museums, ARtifacts is a native iOS/Android app that allows users to scan artwork at any NYC museum to learn more about them and unlock exclusive images and AR experiences.
Art museums are crucial cultural institutions that preserve and make history accessible to the public. According to a 2022 study from the American Alliance of Museums, museum attendance has plateaued and for some, declined since pandemic lockdowns ended. Increasing visitor attendance is imperative as art museums help the local economy and promote research, creativity, and education for all.
The Met’s overall attendance in May 2022 was 316,000—about 62 percent of its visitorship for the same month in 2019.
In February 2022, the American Alliance of Museums released a survey of more than 700 cultural institutions that calculated an average attendance rate of 62 percent, indicating that little progress had been made since the study was compiled.
I believe that visitors go to museums infrequently due to exhibitions lasting months at a time so there aren't new things to see for a while.
I will know I’m right when I see the following feedback from the market:
Majority of the participants (three out of four interviewed participants) say they visit museums infrequently due to the lack of exhibitions rotation.
Some assumptions I had formed about the problem space before conducting research study were:
Exhibitions are switch out infrequently (up for a few months) so there is little need to go back sooner
Some exhibitions don’t align with current cultural/societal interests
Visitors want to know more about the art they are viewing
In planning a research study to gain insight into visitor experience, I identified the research objectives as follows:
To understand the current art museum experience for visitors.
To understand what draws them to visiting art museums or an art experience.
To learn and figure out ways to increase their annual visitation.
Research Methologies and Participant Criteria
I conducted four one on one decontextualized interviews to learn more about the participant's recent experience at an art museum and what they value in their experience. The only participant requirement for the interview is that they had to have visited a NYC art museum in the six months to ensure they can recall and provide insights on the experience.
Key Research Findings
After conducting user interviews, I was able to synthesize the findings using affinity mapping to develop key user insights. From my interviews the hypothesis was proven wrong, but I was able to find prevalent problems current visitors face at art museums.
Striking a Balance Between Learning and Joy in their Visit
Users value having a balance of fun and learning in their museum experience as they see their visit as a break from their busy lives.
Personal Interactions and Observations with Art Mattters
Users care about how they observe and interact with art, with and without the historical context. A few of users describe themselves walking closer and farther away from the artwork when observing.
Museum Goers Want to Learn More
Users want to learn more about the artworks they have viewed while at the museum, the description plaque isn’t enough.
How Might We Statement
Through conducting research into the problem space, interviewing visitors and developing insights, creating a HMW statement help guide the ideation and build process.
How might we help art museum visitors interact with the museum's artwork in meaningful ways in order to increase visitor attendance at art museums?
Using the user interview findings, I was able to develop a persona to represent art museum visitors. A persona helps keep the user in mind while finding and selecting the design solution.
User Stories & Epics
User stories were created to help brainstorm possible functionalities from the perspective of the users through the persona. A problem I encountered in this process was creating at least twenty user stories. By seeking inspiration from other app patterns and features, a couple more stories were added.
The epic that best solved the HMW statement was Experience Enhancement. Through providing interactive and memorable digital experiences, we can deepen visitor connection to the artwork and create location based features that are only accessible within the museum.
Task Flows to Deepen Visitors Connection to Art
Using the user stories, a primary and secondary task flow showcase different features that could solve the task:
Interact with the artwork in a meaningful and memorable way
Discovering UI Inspiration
I created a UI Inspiration board to see how the functionalities mentioned in the user stories appear and work in current apps. The UI inspiration boards helped me develop the sketches and further iterations of the prototype.
Sketches to Low Fidelity Prototype
Using the task flows and user stories, I was able to produce low-fi sketches for the prototype. Crazy 8s was used to come up with ideas quickly and then I refined some sketches to be use as a guideline to create the prototype in Figma.
The design proposal towards creating a solution is allow users to learn more about the artwork through a series of experiences.
Click here to view initial prototype
Prototype Changes from Usability Testing
I conducted two rounds of usability testing with five participants in each round. After the each round, the prototype was revised. Here are some major changes that were made across both rounds:
Fixing the Navigation Bar
Clarified the purpose and meaning of each button on the navigation bar by adding labels.
Understanding AR (Augmented Reality)
Most testers had different ideas of what AR is, so a brief pop-up with an explanation should help them understand what to expect from an AR experience.
Explaining the Collections Page
Most testers didn’t know the purpose of the collection page. A description was added to clear up any confusion.
Low Fidelity Prototype to High Fidelity
Creating the Visual Identity of ARtifacts
For an in-depth look behind the choice of color, typography, brand name, and UI component specification, click here to view.
ARtifacts is a NYC art museum companion app that enhances the visitor experience through location based features.
Click here to view high fidelity prototype.
Scan Artwork in the Museum
Scan the artwork or enter the artwork number to beyond whats available on the art’s plaque.
Dive Deeper into the Artwork
See what details on the artwork you may have missed during your initial viewing as you listen to an expert breakdown of the detail.
Unlock Exclusive Images & AR Experiences
View the artwork outside of the museum through ARtifacts- exclusive images and blend digital with reality through our AR experience.
To promote the app, I created prototypes of the responsive marketing website.
Click here to view the desktop version.
Click here to view the mobile version.
Child Friendly Experience on iPad/Tablet
To promote art education to all ages, ARifacts has a child friendly version on the tablet version of the app. During the observation timer, kids can view age appropriate questions to ponder and view fun facts about the artwork. This app is suitable for families that bring their children to museums.
The Design Impact of ARtifacts
The prospective impact of ARtifacts would be an increase in visitor satisfaction and attendance at the museums across New York City. As a result, there will be an increase in ticket sales and visitor spending at museums (gift shops, special exhibitions/showing tickets, food vendors, etc.). There could be a greater public interest in using AR and new investment by museums to use AR as a way to archive artwork. Art history would be more accessible to the average person and would encourage more people to engage with art, especially lesser known artwork.
If I were to continue to this project, here are the next steps I would take:
Testing the high fidelity prototype and using the feedback to make further iterations
Handing off designs to developers and working together to create native iOS and Android apps
Prepare for App Launch
Trust the Process: At the start of the project, I had few ideas as to how to implement design intervention but that was all scrap after user interviews. Using all of the frameworks I’ve learned throughout the bootcamp, my past internship experiences, and my dedication to creating a great product, I was able to produce a product I’m proud of.
The Importance of Testing: My initial prototype was not intuitive as I thought when users had trouble completing the task flows. Their feedback made the high-fi a more effective experience.
The Magic of 0-1 Design: I enjoy taking a problem and creating an idea on paper and seeing it transform into a tangible product throughout the design process. Design is all about the journey and the people you’ve met along the way.