The goal of the project is to use big data to improve the visit experience in art museums. Why big data? For one thing, it’s the prompt for this Microsoft sponsored course project– Making Data Useful: Improving your life, community and world. For the other thing, we did find data, if carefully applied, could make the museum visits more personal and meaningful.

Exploratory Research

Before divig into the space, we did literature review and competitive analysis to map out the space. We tried different methods in the field research. We observed how people visit and interact the exhibits. We interviewed visitors, curators and artists, as well as other museum staff. We also used card sorting to gain more specific data.

Research Methods
Stakeholder Map


After synthesizing data from the exploratory research, we identified the needs from visitors and mapped them out in a visitor journey. Four types of personas are identified. Among them, the intellectuals can create greater value and affect the other three groups. So we chose to focus on how to use data to provide better visit experience to this group of visitors.

Visitor Journey

Generative Research

In the second phase, we worked with visitors to generate ideas. The tool we used was a generative probe that invites visitors to reflect on their visits. The co-creation was fruitful. We collected data from 46 participants, based on which, we proposed 95 design ideas. We created scenarios and used weighted matrix to evaluate the ideas.


We did two rounds of user testing. The first round was paper prototype. With some physical prototypes (including a tag tool, paper map and web page sketches), we mainly wanted to test the usefulness of our design. In the second round, we made interactive prototypes to test the usability of the system. Participants went through the visit journey with a guided storyline. The feedback from users was encouraging and thought-provoking. They pointed out the value of the system, and also showed us what can be improved.

Scenarios and Magic Device
Physical Prototypes
Interactive Prototypes

Final Design

Our final design is Art Tap, a system that lets visitors collect their favourites in the exhibits and learn more about art and themselves. It consists of multiple touchpoints: an app, RFID ticket and a paper map to support on-site engagement; a website that engages visitors after they leave the museum. We created a video sketch to show how the system might work in real setting.

System Map
Feature of the App
Feature of the Website
My Role
  • Visual Design
  • User Research
  • Prototypes
  • Microsoft
  • 01/2013 – 05/2013