How User Centred Design Can Help Museums Put People at the Centre of the Exhibition Design Process

Jamie Taylor
Original paper on Museum Next >

User Centred Design (UCD) offers radical opportunities for user-driven exhibitions that fill a genuine need in people’s lives. It is a process that offers opportunity for continuous improvement based on insights from your visitors.

Chances are you’ve heard of UCD before. Designers use it to create intuitive and pleasurable experiences for people using their products. This is called the user experience (UX). It is the result of a series of considered and deliberate choices that are tested, reviewed and amended to meet a user’s needs.
When working with UCD, it’s vital that you test as much as you can. This can be done by specialists or it could be something that you do yourself. Whatever you’re able to do, do it early and do it often. An early test with three people is likely to be more use to you than a late test with thirty. Not only will three people likely pick up most of the big problems, you also have time to fix them before you have progressed too far. Be realistic about what you can change. It’s likely that you won’t have the resources to fix everything so instead concentrate on those that will make the biggest impact on your visitors.
The UCD process can be thought of as five overlapping planes. These are strategy, scope, structure, skeleton and surface. By completing each plane in order and testing the results, you are working towards turning an abstract idea into a UX that works for your visitors.
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