At the end of the workshop I asked people to reflect on the question How could they (i.e. us) ruin it? – something we’ve used for many years in audience research, as it brings out useful and succinct feedback that is actionable. Even though the responses were related to our particular project, I believe they are universal and serve as a good reminder.
So, how could we ruin it?:
- Over-engineering / over-complicating an experience – by trying to do too much we often lose sight of the relatively simple needs visitors have: a social learning experience while looking at cool objects.
- Excluding segments of an audience – while not every experience needs to appeal to all markets and we don’t want a one-size-fits-all approach, we do need consider the diverse backgrounds of our visitors – age, gender, cultural, interests, along with their ability levels and learning styles.
- No room to move once ‘opened’ – we often forget that the experience is not finished the day it opens, that is actually the day the experience starts! We need to look at how visitors are using/responding/interacting with an experience, and continually tweak and adjust to meet usage patterns, audience needs and the changing technological landscape.
- By not evaluating – and then by not acting on findings.
- Losing the magic – working day-to-day we often forget that museums can be magical places for visitors, remember to look around and see our museum experiences through their eyes.
Finally, we could ruin it by not learning ourselves as we develop and implement experiences. Research undertaken in 1998 at the Australian Museum, Sydney, found that project teams who were learning as they worked provided better learning experiences for audiences.
So, why not try asking your colleagues and your audiences How could they ruin it? and see what pops up?!