Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
We began our partnership with the Van Gogh Museum and award winning brand and design agency Fabrique late in 2013. The aim was to plan and implement the re-development of the Museum’s multimedia guide. Our experience and expertise in delivering mobile products for museum enabled us to design and deliver a new research and design process for the guide. The process was designed to support innovation while reducing risk through user research and iterative design. The project is part of a three year partnership that will also cover other mobile services.
The project was as much about process as it is about product. Of course, the Museum wanted to deliver a fantastic guide for visitors; but at the same time it wanted to use the project as a catalyst for organisational change.
Historically the Museum contracted with external suppliers for everything from the design and development of its guides and content, to their on-going staffing and maintenance. For this, the Museum wanted to take a new approach that gave its team greater creative and operational control and allowed them to be part of the development process every step of the way.
What we are delivering
A collaborative approach
Key to the project has been the approach underpinning it. To fit with the Museum’s desire to do something innovative and stay involved in the project, we have developed a collaborative process using phased research, prototyping and testing to help us all move together towards defining and building the new services.
For example, our team undertook on-site research into the Museum’s audiences to try to understand what visitors want and need from their visit and associated services. But we didn’t just deliver a report on our findings.
Following the research, we went into two days of design workshops with Fabrique and the Museum team, using our data and experience of developing guides – coupled with the Museum’s knowledge of its own audiences and Fabrique’s knack for dreaming up new products – to provoke and test design ideas.
Breadth of Perspective
We understood that the guide would touch every part of the organisation – from visitor services staff, to the marketing team, to curators and web specialists, and held workshops with those staff to draw out all of their insights and insider knowledge.
Breadth of perspective has been key to what we have achieved so far: the Van Gogh team bring endless subject specialist knowledge, Fabrique deliver on graphic and user interaction design, and we contribute an understanding of audiences, and marketing and content strategies refined over more than twenty years of developing innovative mobile guides.
This project has become not about building a product, but about developing an entire experience for visitors with a robust service wrapped around it.
In the run up to the launch in November 2014 we:
- Developed a series of concepts for the new guide, based on research into audience needs.
- Provided audience research and testing at every stage of the process
- Designed the content strategy and managed the development of content in 10 languages
- Shared tools and processes with the Van Gogh team that will allow them to evaluate the new guide and develop new projects in the future. These include: User Persona development and user journey mapping; Developing an evaluation framework
Since launch there has been an increase of more than 30% in the number of users of the guide and the guide recently won a Dutch Design Award. You can see Marthe de Vet, Head of Education at the Van Gogh Museum discussing the project along with Ebelien Pondaag, Strategist at Fabrique and our own Alyson Webb at the Communicating the Museum conference here.