Wicked Problem — Culture & Heritage: Creating an app to attract more museum visitors

A UX case study

Since the 70s, museums and other public institutions have been suffering a profound crisis. In the heart of this kind of institutions, there’s the mission of making heritage accessible for all.

They build the bridges between objects and people, for them to be enjoyed by citizens.

DESIGN CHALLENGE

The challenge started with a question: “How Might We help museums and other public institutions bring people closer and fulfill their mission to preserve and activate cultural heritage in the 21st century?”

In order to solve this wicked problem, we went through an alternative method of linear thinking, also called design thinking, starting with understanding the user to define the problem and ending with a low-fi prototype and its testing phase.

Design is about solving problems. Fall in love with the problem, not the solution.

Empathize

First of all, you need to empathize with the user and understand their behavior to develop a deep understanding of the problem. We did this through user research, developed a quantitative survey which was filled out by 30 people and did a qualitative interview with 6 persons.

Based on the results from the survey and research, we focused on two persona groups:

  • Max — the lazy student, who rather enjoys to spend his time outside social with friends then in ‘boring museums’ and
  • Gabrielle — the museum lover, who is a busy business woman and does not have enough time to do the relevant research to find interesting exhibitions.

The empathy map allows us to empathize our observations from the research phase and draw out unexpected insights about the user’s need.

Define

In the define stage, it was important to articulate the problem we want to solve clearly, so we formulated a problem & hypothesis statement:

Problem Statement

Young people find museums boring and are not attracted to visit them.

Hypothesis Statement

Museums as an institution had given a lot to the society. However we believe it’s time to develop a source that combines culture and technology to modernize the “classic” concept and make museums sexy to attract more people. We will know we are right, when the numbers of visitors increases by 10% in the next quarter.

In order to fully understand the problem, we created a story board and a user journey map for the two personas, which you can find in the image below.

Ideate

We tried to brainstorm all possible solutions, either good and bad, in oder to come up with a “final” concept for the low-fi prototype.

The low-fi prototype leads the user from login to its profile, based on current location and interests, it will filter interesting exhibitions close by. The user can buy tickets online via the app, which has many features:

  • no long queues and waiting times, since there is an extra queue for app users who bought their ticket upfront
  • staying up to date about new exhibitions
  • getting informed about current number of visitors in the museum
  • receiving rewards for giving reviews afterwards, inviting friends etc.
  • possibility to pay with rewards, so in the end the user also saves money

Test

We are currently in the testing phase and gather user feedback to refine our solution. After the first adaption of the low fi with the feedback, we will test again, so in the end we will have hopefully a user-friendly app which can go online and revolutionize the market.

Learnings

  1. Don’t focus on too many problems — you can’t solve all of them.
  2. Define the problem clearly and look for one specific solution.
  3. Dividing the tasks between each other is great to save time, however, for practice it’s also good to do it yourself.

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