Weeknotes 48.2013

On November 28th, 2013, posted in: weeknotes by

Week 48 of our ageing year was a particularly busy and interesting one for Laura, who was over at the Museum Computer Network Conference in Montreal. She was there leading a panel discussion focused on how to go beyond visitor surveys and use design research to guide decisions. (For those still wondering what the difference is you can see a fine descriptions here.) Judging by the tweets it provoked, the panel was well received and it looks like there is interest in more discussion about how research can help design better digital experiences.

One of the recurring themes at several MCN panels was harnessing the power of prototyping to communicate ideas to colleagues. Across a range of technology projects, panelists observed that building and showing prototypes was a far more successful means of communicating ideas to skeptical colleagues than just talking about them. It is also proving to be a good way of developing designs that really meet the needs of users. This is not a new idea but, judging from MCN, it’s being embraced as more common practice in the museum field.

Laura is now taking a quick break for the Thanksgiving holiday in the US (pumpkin pie, anyone?), but when she gets back it’s busy, busy, with plenty to do before Christmas for both SFMOMA and The Jewish Museum.

Things show no sign of slowing down in Europe either. This week Lindsey’s split her time between two very different projects. First, on Monday, she was with me over at Lincoln Castle agreeing design principles for a product to be delivered on fixed tablets. Then, 24 hours later, she and Alyson were in Brussels leading a workshop with the House of European History team. Again the task at hand was agreeing a set of design principles for their new guide.

Developing an agreed product manifesto or a set of principles is an activity we have developed to encourage cross-disciplinary teams to begin to share hope and fears, and to challenge their assumptions about the design of a mobile experience. When technology is moving quickly and teams come face to face with vast choice about how products should look, feel, and function, agreeing principles can help an organisation stay focused and make considered choices about audiences, functionality and content. This week, in Lincoln and in Brussels, it was interesting to see that in two such different projects and contexts, the respective teams nevertheless shared many of the same values. It was also great to observe the way that agreeing principles helped those teams to relax and constructively share ideas.

A final note, again on principles Alyson was at the Museums Assocation All in Hand event today, sharing some of the service design principles that she and Lindsey have arrived at after years of hard graft in the industry. Her slides are below, so do take a look and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear any of your own pearls of wisdom on the subject.

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