The interviews also helped me to construct the scenarios when visitors interact with the information. When do they stop? What motivates them to read? What do they do after reading the information? I tried to answer these questions by really looking into the microinteraction in the space. Here’s the scenario:
This diagram helps me to see the connection of all the elements that interviewees mentioned about, including motivation, the touch-points (labels, audio guides, apps, etc.), the time element, the physical distance between the viewer and the work, note-taking, the beginning and the end of the interaction, etc. I used this chart to brainstorm design ideas or solutions.
At this point, I went back to the concepts: situated interest and personal interest; attractors and sustainers. For all three types of visitors, they all start with something that attracts their eyes, then they stop. This visual appeal is the attractors. Then what is the sustainers to keep this situated interest?
For expert visitors, they are self-motivated to read and learn. They might get useful information from the information touch-points in the museum, followed by more questions, which need to be answered. Or they might want more in-depth information instead of general information on the placard to fully solve their questions. The sustainers for them would be in-depth information.
For the other two categories, motivated learners and visual visitors, what are the sustainers? I think this question has been investigated well enough in the marketing and advertising industries. For me, I look at it from the label perspective. It’s a great tool to present information, but it can be better. They cannot sustain visitors’ interests, and they are not able to satisfy people with different eyesights and distances. At this point, there are three types of potential sustainers that I identify from the interview synthesis:
– fancy visualization of information to provide information at a glance, which could be digital or physical, such as layers of labels or cards;
– provide new ways to read information, such as projection around the painting, reading information from mobile devices, etc.
– provide new types of information. One thing people constantly mentioned about is the context. They would like to see underlying connections in the space or among the artworks to better understand the works.
Beyond the above visions from the interviews, I also think about other areas that I should pay attention to.
One thing is time. The time that visitors spend in front of a painting usually means something, such as they are interested, they have questions, they have discussion, etc. Though the goal is not to increase the time they spend in front of the paintings, it would be interesting to reveal this data to the visitors and see what might happen. It could be a sand glass along the labels to indicate how long you or other visitors have spend in front of the painting, or it could be a painting that reveals itself step by step when you spend in front of it long enough.
The other thing is back to the beginning and think about why I am interested in this topic. What exactly attracts me to work on it? For me, I just enjoy the looking experience, how looking itself trigger judgments, imagination, discussion, emotion. It’s poetic, with all the beauty as well as weirdness, uncomfortableness, and awkwardness. It’s organic for it’s should not and cannot be structured, and there are always dynamic interaction among the visitors and the works on display. I am not interested to innovate everything that current museums provide. What attracts me is to explore new possibilities of the visitor-exhibit interaction.