Weeknotes: 34.2016 – building audiences, diving into visitor research with the ss Great Britain, goodbyes

On August 26th, 2016, posted in: weeknotes by

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Well, last week’s post by Lindsey on “What you need to know before making a mobile experience” seems to have gone down well. Good to see that people are finding it useful.

Just Lindsey and I left in the office this week, as Alyson is taking a well-earned break and Laura is still away. Last week Alyson was doing a final presentation on the National Gallery project, though, and along with Lindsey was thinking about the new Scottish Ballet project. As part of the latter, Lindsey got a trip up to Edinburgh to see the ballet perform. She says:

“Last week I got to a Scottish Ballet performance at the Edinburgh festival. It’s a tough life, etc. The excuse? Our work on this project is thinking about how they get more people to come back. We’re looking at people’s expectations before they come to the Ballet and their experience of attending. So I had the chance to be a first time attendee. We’re still at the Discovery stage so we are just starting to build a picture of the research areas so we can design the research activities. 

It’s an interesting project for us on two counts. Firstly, Scottish Ballet perform in different theatres around Scotland and further afield but don’t have a performance space to call home. As experience designers and researchers our work is often about looking at how people interact with specific spaces. However, the client team pointed out, as a company that doesn’t have a home they often think about what is happening on the stage but not particularly the experience for the audience.

Second reason, we’re finding so much new stuff! As part of the preliminary research we unearthed a brilliant report titled “The Road to Results – Effective Practice for Building Arts Audiences” reviewing 10 organisations for effective practice, strategy and tactics. If you want the edited highlights then read the post by DanceUSA where they share the 9 threads that lead through projects that build audiences. This also feeds into a trend we’ve noticed around organisations looking seriously at how they build longer term relationships. To quote: “So much of the work done in arts audience-building, I must say, is about the techniques and tactics: ‘We did this great after-hours thing. We had this lively talk back. We did this great social media thing. We had a kiosk.’ Arts organizations tend to focus on these tactics that are sexy to read about, but what we found is that they are sort of red herrings,” says Harlow. “You really need to focus on building relationships. Organizations that focus on building long-term relationships, understanding who they want to build a relationship with, what they can offer them and whether they are a match, that’s the stuff that makes the difference” Good stuff.”

Apart from some continuing work on the Science Museum mobile research (which the Museum do plan to publish at some point, so keep an eye out) I was mostly planning for our workshop with the ss Great Britain team last Friday. This session was all about getting the important insights from our audience research, which involved phone interviews with visitors and non-visitors to the site, as well as onsite interviews with visitors who we’d also asked to audio record their visits, telling us their thoughts along the way.

Our workshop participants, from various teams at the ss Great Britain, had each been given two or three interviews and narrated visits to review beforehand. This meant that on the day we could take turns hearing what they had discovered from these interviews as they shared the visitor stories, noting those findings in different categories (“planning”,”attitude to digital”,”relationship to organisation” etc).

The last job was to sort these findings into groups of a similar nature and produce insight statements for each one. For instance, a finding that several people didn’t notice a particular feature of the site might lead to the insight that this feature is poorly signposted.

This week we’ve been back in Bristol with the same team to turn those insights into opportunities, and thinking about ideas that could meet those opportunities.

And finally, it is really an “and finally” for me. My last day at FGW is next Wednesday. I’ll be taking a month off and then rejoining the working world as a freelancer again in October. I’ve learned a lot this year working with Lindsey, Alyson, and Laura and look forward to taking that into different sectors in the future (and potentially some projects with FGW too). You can still find me on twitter and on my own blog though, of course. So bye to FGW, and bye to all you lovely weeknotes readers.

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