Let’s talk about the big little details that offered up some challenges.Basic information such as opening times are extremely valuable for visitors, despite being sometimes overlooked during the design process.
For our project, a common user journey would involve looking for something to do today, as the previous user research suggested. Visitors would like to know right away if the museum is open today and what activities or events are available.
A simple click or tap links to a page with the full opening times. This task gets more complicated when all our venues have a different system of timetables. They would all be displayed on the homepage of each venue but vary wildly in their arrangement. Who would have thought it could be such a challenge?
After some experimentation with the layout, we defined all of the user scenarios to solve. Some of the scenarios we found were, how do we show today’s time left before closing? How do all the modules connect together if the venue is closed for a few months? How do we deal with irregular times without displaying a list full of exceptions and difficult to digest information on the homepage?
Looking at all the scenarios started sketching out different layouts to solve each.
And once we’d sketched out and refined all the options we could display we moved all the ideas into a prototype.
Check out the rest by clicking on each venue on http://bmga-prototype.fffixture.co. We’ll be testing this with users next week to validate our thinking and see which ideas perform best.
Something we’re massively keen on is sketching. Its the quickest way to get ideas out of my head and onto a page, and whilst I’m doing it I’m debating and justifying the decisions I make along the way. Its an incredibly good exercise for honing ideas quickly.
So today I began sketching UI ideas for the various sections of the site, having first digested the IA and User Research work we’ve completed.
The images below show the sketching I’ve been doing whilst looking at the different display options for handling events. We need to give the user an initial snapshot of the day’s events, whilst enabling them to look at a week, a month or a custom time period. We also want to offer them the option to filter by type of event, or the venue.
So in this first image I’m looking at a mobile view, and how users can interact to view the events as they wish. There’s ideas coming out such as colour coding events by venue. I also started with thumbnail images for each event, and then thought about download overhead, and so made a note that we could use a date card device there instead.
The next step was to take the ideas to the desktop view, and see how we could configure and add to them there. So there’s two ideas on how to treat the elements from the mobile view. You can see I’m exploring the options for displaying the filter – whether in a horizontal configuration that closely resembles the mobile UI, or in a sidebar so its very visible for the user. I’ve considered whether there will be images for each event, and what to do if there is not one. And lastly, how to use the colour coded tabs to indicate the venue for each event.
All a work in progress, but worth sharing so you can see how I quickly generate, discard and progress ideas. The next step for us is to test these ideas with users, and see how they respond.
Since our initial review of user research, I’ve been busy developing information architecture and navigation ideas. We’ve worked up an initial information architecture and navigation which is geared towards getting museum visitors the information that they need but which will allow the site to expand to accommodate content for other users in later phases of the project.
We’re committed to testing our work with users throughout the project and for these early stages we’ll be using an interactive prototype built with HTML and CSS for this. Building and testing with a prototype in this way allows us to
work quickly and iteratively
experiment, keeping what works and throwing away what doesn’t
design and test across devices: everything we build must be fully responsive
quickly, easily and continuously share our designs with members of the team, stakeholders and everyone else who is interested (see the URL below)
More details of how we build our prototypes will come in a later post or, in case we forget(!), on request.
We’re working on setting up a development site to publish the prototype on Bristol Museum’s hosting but until that’s sorted, you can access it here:
Last week we ran the first tests with members of the public. We set ourselves up with a laptop and an iPad in the cafe at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery and invited users to test the IA and navigation. Volunteers who could spare us 10 – 15 minutes were asked to complete a theoretical task by navigating the prototype whilst talking through what they were thinking and doing.
We tested with a number of individuals or couples and gained some really helpful insights into our early stage designs. We’re incorporating changes to the navigation as a response to these insights at the same time as starting to populate the prototype with features and content for further user testing.