Last Wednesday we held a one day workshop in London entitled ‘Digital: From Idea to Audience’. Supported by our Major Partner Museum funding from Arts Council England, the day was attended by about 20 delegates from museums across the UK.
The event was inspired by the response to a talk I gave at the Museums Association conference last November. After speaking at that event, I received a good 30 minutes of questions from the audience, almost all of which were focused on everyday practical questions: ‘How do you recruit a developer?’ ‘How can I test a website with my users?’ ‘How can I get other people in my organisation to contribute to my digital project?’
This workshop was a direct response to those questions, and intended to address some of the more practical issues museums face in developing digital products and experiences.
Kevin Bacon, Royal Pavilion & Museums
I spoke about our recent work in gaining a better understanding of our online users, and how this work informed the launch of brightonmuseums.org.uk last year. I talked a little about a previous digital project, Story Drop, which failed to gain as much of an audience as we had hoped, and how the failures of this project informed the success of the web redevelopment.
Gavin Mallory, Cogapp
Gavin gave a witty and entertaining talk with six top tips on how museums can achieve ‘digital excellence’. It included references to Michelangelo, a chance to play ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire?’, and a display of ‘bad briefs’.
Graham Davies, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
Graham skillfully turned the premise of the programme on its head. Rather than developing ‘digital ideas’, he argued that museums should be working from the audience to the idea. With the aid of some beavers and divas he talked about how National Museum Wales have spread digital activity across the organisation, and a culture of user-centric thinking.
Tiana Tasich, Digitelling Agency
Tiana has a good deal of experience in the museum and arts sector, having previously worked at Tate and the Southbank Centre. She delivered a practical session on how to set up a usability testing session.
She began by insisting that although this is often described as ‘user testing’, we are not testing people; we are really testing how well people can use our digital products and services. This was a practical session that showed how to set up a testing session, and how to develop audience profiles. Tiana also made a very good point about how the boundaries of usability testing are changing: while this has often been very screen based, the growth of iBeacons and other location technologies means that we now also need to test usability in physical spaces.
My thanks go out to all the delegates who attended the day, and to the great speakers who joined me.
- Report on the day by delegate Matthew Tyler-Jones
- YouTube clip of John Falk on visitor motivation and learning styles (recommended by Gavin Mallory)
- Forrester Research Group Digital Business Transformation Playbook (free download on registration; recommended by Gavin Mallory)
- Digital: Ideas to Audience conference programme [PDF]