Way back in April, in the midst of lockdown, we spoke with the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) as they were questioning how to adapt this year’s Summer Exhibition for reduced visitor numbers. We responded by hypothesizing five digital approaches that would enhance the overall experience. The approaches are rooted in an understanding of how people behave in digital experiences. We feel they’re relevant not only to the RA but other museums and galleries alike who are asking similar questions.

“Clicking through to a page of thumbnails that simply link to hi-res artwork images doesn’t feel like an event. [For many museums] digitization of gallery spaces has been something of a sideshow, part of accessibility and outreach schemes, rather than a serious venue for the appreciation of art.” …


Illustration of two people making notes as several arms holding phones surround them
Illustration of two people making notes as several arms holding phones surround them

Qualitative research is typically conducted in-person, in a lab environment. There is a general consensus that meeting participants face-to-face provides a richness that is difficult to achieve otherwise. In some cases that can be true. But for many qualitative studies remote research can be just as good, if not better, at generating the insights needed to help a team move forward in their work.

Here are just a few benefits that a remote approach to research can bring.

Diversity

Without the need to bring participants to a single location, we’re often free to source participants from further afield and in turn ensure that our study data isn’t skewed by localised trends and behaviours (if that’s of concern). Other aspects of diversity come into play too. With remote research anyone with an internet connection can participate. That includes those with disabilities who otherwise might be unable to attend an in-person session. We find we get greater success finding people from lower income backgrounds too, who often find themselves with little time or perhaps aren’t able to front the money required to travel to a study. …


Summary: In this article we’ll look at how some museums are approaching the design and organisation of their navigation on desktop.

A collection of museum homepages
A collection of museum homepages

Museums are often large, amorphous organisations. When designing a museum website this poses a challenge for information architecture and the design of navigation. With their strong physical location, the job of a museum’s website is to prepare visitors for that physical space so they can have the best experience possible. If only that was where the complexity ended: As organisations, museums tend to do a lot of behind-the-scenes work, often for specialist audiences; they run e-commerce sections of their site; sell tickets just like theatres or cinemas do; run programmes of events that don’t fit neatly into single categories; the list goes on. …


I’ve noticed a pattern, it reveals itself through my mood and my energy, my self esteem and my ego, and my vigor or my listlessness. I refer to this pattern as the Creative Cycle.

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Credit for this one goes to my two year old son

The three acts of the Creative Cycle

Act I: Inspired

A period of time filled with promise, a sense that anything is possible, a warm urgency that fills the gut, a mass of energy waiting to get out.

Act II: Acting

Exerting the energy, containing it, managing it, running with it, and playing with it. It feels like progress, like we’re doing what we’re meant to be doing. Time runs fluidly, and things and thoughts connect.

Act III: Lost

The energy built up in the first act feels spent. Time moves slower, questions seem bigger and more impactful and knotty. It feels hard to move, and if we can move it is hard to know where and how. …


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Behavioural design is the application of behavioural science to the design of a product or service. In many cases designers are already applying some of these concepts to their work. It may be that they aren’t fully aware of the prior research, frameworks and methodologies, and that’s OK. But when the products and services we create require a guided change within the user, an understanding of behavioural science becomes an invaluable tool. Here are a few resources that provide a primer into this intriguing world of behavioural design.


Our natural social behaviours can hinder a deeper understanding of users. But what are these conversational tendencies and how can we avoid them to conduct better user interviews?

An surreal illustration of a man delving into the mind of research participant
An surreal illustration of a man delving into the mind of research participant
Illustration: Jack Bedford

Humans are particularly good at socialising. Over thousands of years we’ve developed a complex set of behaviours that enable us to converse, convey thoughts and ideas, debate, and relate to one another. To watch an interaction between two people is observe a symphony of conscious and subconscious expressions, gestures, and choice language, all working together to fulfil fundamental human needs—to be understood, admired, perhaps even loved.

When interviewing users these behaviours can hamper our best attempts to understand them. Unlike a typical conversation, in a research session we’re only interested in the participant. We want to reveal their thoughts, needs, and opinions. …


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When putting together a kit for conducting research keeping things simple is my top priority. Each tool in the kit needs to serve a specific purpose to justify carrying it between sessions. In the end, all you really need is a good dictaphone. But of course research sessions aren’t always as simple as having a conversation, to document other activities, such as interactions with prototypes and paper exercises, a few addition bits of hardware and software are helpful. Here’s what I use and why.

H A R D W A R E

Audio


How bias affects product teams and the need for a dedicated researcher.

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Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash

As my colleague walked the participant out of the room and back to reception, I sat reflecting on the interview. I felt a warm glow, it reminded me why I love doing what I do — to help solve people’s problems. During the last hour, as my colleague probed a willing participant with seemingly disconnected questions, I got a real sense that the product we were creating was going to ease her pain.

My colleague returned, looking slightly more drained than before the interview had began. No longer in facilitation mode, she was free to return to a more relaxed state. She sat back down and let out a deep breath. …


A look back at the art I made in 2018 and what I learned along the way.

I started 2018 full of blind ambition, a giant canvas that barely fit through my front door, an aspiration to paint a masterpiece on it, and not much clue what I was doing. The result was an unconfident piece.

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January 2018

I was sort of obsessed with a single line motif and had a plan to create a dominating work that led the viewer into a maze of lines, taking their mind on a meditative journey. That didn’t really happen.


How models and diagrams helped us communicate the unseen.

Earlier this year I was working with a small team to develop a new tool that helps creatives in the advertising industry do better work. As with any ambitious new product, the roadmap and backlog were crammed with work. New features were often spoken about in the abstract, scribbled onto Post-it notes and stuck onto a sprint in the not-too-distant future.

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Just an innocent Post-it note? More like a red flag.

As experienced consultants we knew the reality was that large features and complex problems needed to be thought about and discussed early on—way ahead of developers beginning to write code. The reason for early deliberation was simple, clarity and alignment on an idea saves wasted effort. The enemy is abstraction and ambiguity. …

About

Sam Judge

Creative Partner at Same. We help purpose-led organisations make digital products that matter. https://www.projectsbysame.com

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