What’s Holding Us Back? True Stories Of User-Centered Design

Professional Forum

Friday, April 05, 2019: 3:00pm - 3:50pm - Grand Ballroom

Laura Mann, Frankly, Green + Webb USA, USA, Alyson Webb, Frankly, Green + Webb ltd, UK, Mark Andrews, Exploratorium, USA, John Stack, Science Museum Group, UK, Emily Fildes, Science Museum Group, UK

The need for, and processes of, user-centered design are well understood by digital teams but the entrenched patterns of working and habits of mind shaped by the physical museum context mean it’s still a significant struggle to build support for the things that matter most to our audiences. Many of us continue to lurch from digital project to digital project – inhibiting our ability to plan, budget and act strategically – and teams struggle to work across institutional silos, with decisions often based on individual opinion or funding opportunities.

This professional forum will be a frank conversation about the opportunities and challenges museums face in becoming more user-centered. We will explore how three institutions – the Science Museum, the Exploratorium, and Wellcome Collection have used a range of formative research methods and how a user-centered design process has helped them gain insight into the behavior and needs of online audiences, guide strategic choices and support data-informed decision-making. The forum will also address the issues that have been most difficult and the barriers they continue to encounter.

• How do we shift from telling the stories the museum wants to tell to those that audiences are Googling?
• Does a research-based process allow us to change internal conversations, making them more productive and informed by good evidence and less opinion based?
• Can data help us reshape our institutions’ understanding of the value of their online offer?
• How can we move beyond the funding model of big, shiny one-off projects to support sustainable content and feature development? What would a such a model look like?

The forum will synthesize key insights and lessons learned from recent and ongoing projects, followed by a vigorous and frank discussion with the audience of the user-centered design process – the immediate gains, the ongoing challenges, and the outstanding questions.

Bibliography:
US Government Benefits of User-Centered Design https://www.usability.gov/what-and-why/benefits-of-ucd.html
UK Government Design Principles https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-design-principles