Imperial War Museum, London
The Imperial War Museum was undergoing renovation prior to reopening for the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War.
The digital team asked us to help them understand whether or not they needed to offer visitors a mobile guide in their new galleries.
What we delivered
Focusing on audiences and outcomes
We reviewed the IWM’s audience segmentation data to understand its visitors’ needs and motivations to visit. We then mapped those against the Museum’s overarching interpretative strategies and exhibition design.
After this initial investigation, it was felt that a mobile guide – in its traditional format – wouldn’t help either the organisation or its visitors get what they needed from a visit.
However, our work had enabled us to identify gaps in the Museum’s offer to certain audiences that mobile could address. We presented the Museum team with two opportunities to use mobile, and began a second phase of work to help develop and pilot one of the two.
Using mobile as a tool for organisational change
We understood from long experience that a successful mobile service requires input and support from across the organisation and so we created a project team with members from digital media, retail, visitor services, education & learning and marketing.
Their role was to work together to design the whole user experience and the service that would support and sustain it rather than to focus simply on a digital product.
This pilot project coincided with an internal digital literacy campaign at the Museum. In the end the whole process proved a fantastic way of getting different teams to work together on digital with a common purpose.
Putting experience before technology
The idea behind the pilot project was to build something playful and experiential for families. We brought in interactive theatre-makers Coney to work with us to develop and run a series of workshops that helped the IWM team identify what they wanted to happen in the Museum space, rather than on the possibilities and constraints of different technologies.
Helping the wider museum team see technology as a means to an end, rather than as an end in itself, has brought out real enthusiasm for using digital in more creative and imaginative ways across the Museum, and in ways that should deliver benefit across departments – not just for digital. Involving the key marketing, retail and visitor services teams means the service is far more likely to be sustainable long term.
Image courtesy of Adi Narayan