Weeknotes: 02.2014

On January 8th, 2014, posted in: weeknotes by

What more fitting symbol for the season could there be than the complete absence of weeks 50, 51, 52 and 1 from our hitherto pristine catalogue of weeknotes? The run up to Christmas was an unprecedentedly hectic period for the Frankly, Green + Webb team. Then there was all that eating to do. Having started out as a regular four-person team before the holidays, FG+W now have the collective weight of not five, not six, but seven common or garden pit ponies. In any case we’re refreshed and glad to be back to work. Happy New Year to you all!

And what a year it promises to be… After an autumn of secrets and half-truths we can at last put a name to one of our hitherto confidential projects. Since October we’ve been working in partnership with digital design agency Fabrique (you may have seen them making waves with an award winning website for the Rijksmuseum) on the development of a brand new multimedia guide for the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

 In the past the Museum has fully outsourced the design and production of its multimedia guides, but it decided that this time – with the guide up for renewal – it wanted more control and a greater stake in every aspect of design. Rather than simply buying an off-the-shelf guide and service, the Museum will be working side-by-side with our two teams as we research, design and build a new product from scratch. From creating content, to choosing a device, and building a made-to-measure service for customers around the guide, the Van Gogh team will be involved all the way.

 To help the project run smoothly, one of our first steps has been to hold interviews with all internal stakeholders at the Museum. A museum guide touches nearly all of its staff – from the education and curatorial teams inputting to content, to front-of-house staff who will know better than most what a visitor goes through when collecting and paying for it. We wanted to talk with everyone and squeeze as much insight from each member of staff as possible, whilst also giving them the chance to contribute ideas and ask questions.

 We’ve also been carrying out audience research with an eye on increasing uptake of the guide among visitors. Over 6 days of on-site research we’ve asked – among other things: how are visitors that use the guide and those that choose not to different from each other, and do they share any common ground? Is it possible to design a product that meets a wider range of visitor needs and expectations? One certainty is that the project has a long time left to run. The new multimedia guide will launch this summer, but we’ll be working with the Van Gogh Museum for the next three years to continually evaluate and develop new mobile interpretation services. Watch this space for more updates.

Besides events in the Netherlands, there’s a lot more to fill you in on over the coming weeks. We’ve been keeping busy with our on-going projects at the Natural History Museum of Utah and at Lincoln Castle. Watch out for all that in due course. For now, though – in the interest of brevity – here’s just a bit of housekeeping and a first date of 2014 for your diary.

Spring will find us presenting at several conferences. First on the calendar is Museums and the Web 2014 in Baltimore, April 2-5. We’ll be conducting a workshop, “Tools for designing visitor-centered mobile experiences” that will focus on the importance of context in mobile experience design, reimagining mobile beyond the conventional audio/multimedia guide. Sounds like your cup of tea? Then why not grab some tickets and come along and join us?

Finally, speaking of conferences, Laura’s MCN2013 panel, Beyond the Visitor Survey: Using research to drive design decisions is now available on video. Do take a look if you’ve got a moment. Until next week…

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