Enhancing the Museum Experience through Digital Context and Personalized Journeys

UX/UI Designer, Interaction Designer

View from above of several smartphone screens arranged diagonally on a surface

Project Summary:

  • Helped the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in presenting important museums under a unified platform.

  • Through non-intrusive and informative adverts in the app, we encouraged the purchase of annual subscriptions.

  • Visitors can engage with the artifacts and museums based on their personal interests.

Müzeler (Museums), is a platform that primarily focuses on providing guidance to visitors and researchers throughout their visit to museums and historical places.

An historic bust can be seen from above on the left, while a phone with the "Muzeler" app open can be seen on the right.

”I remember working in museum once when a man who was looking at one of our well interpreted exhibits nearby asked me what it was about. I walked up to him and pointed at the main labels in the case and read them to him and explained the exhibit. He was very appreciative...” -G. Ellis Burcaw

Burcaw's comment inspired us to think how we might introduce the explore and learn as you go approach to museums that don't currently employ it.

According to John H. Falk and Dierking, the author of the Museum Experience, Museum Experience is a learning experience. The aspects that create museum experience include the physical context, the social context, and the personal context. We might think of the museum experience as a journey from the moment we first consider visiting a museum to the actual visit and beyond. 

In simple terms, personal context gives a visitor's background. The social background and culture of the visitor are expressed in the social context. Every information that surrounds the visitor is included in the physical context.

The three contexts of the museum experience helped us in determining how to engage with the visitors and finally led us to add a fourth context—a digital context—to it that is distinct from the physical context in that it is not limited by time or location. This digital context allows visitors to plan ahead and learn and explore the museums even before they visit the museum.

After ideating how a digital context might enhance the museum experience. We asked ourselves “who are we serving?” and discovered that museum visitors can be divided into three categories. 

Explorers: Curiously focused visitors have a general interest in the content of the museum. They expect to find content that will draw their attention and feed their learning.

Professionals: Visits typically have the desire to fulfill a specific purpose for the content.

Experience Seekers: They consider the museum to be an important location, and their happiness is correlated with their desire to be there and where they believe they should go.

The museum experience should be tailored to the visitor's goals since they may say, "I just want to claim I've been there" or "I want to see Poseidon's Trident in Hagia Sophia." The main objective of “Muzeler” is to fulfill the needs for every unique scenario. We see “Muzeler” as an essential element for every museum visit.

In order to better understand how we engage with different museums and what the serious challenges are, we, visited a variety of them with the participants to our research. A comparative analysis of other similar apps was performed. Statistics on visitors and their behaviours were also examined.

We discovered that the process of learning and being able to be immersed in the museum experience was poorly handled by design and required extra caution.

After understanding the challenges, the contexts of the museum experience and who we are serving, we designed "Muzeler" to feel like a journey. This journey can be broken down into four segments;

1- Personalized Feed         2- Planning the Tour         3- Experience Phase         4- Upgrading the Plan

1-Personalized Feed: Visitors of all kinds will initially land on the home page. Imagine it as a hub that will guide visitors in the proper direction. 

Users are welcomed with monthly briefs for the city they are in or intend to visit at the top of the page. Since the weather is the absolute most important factor in determining whether a visitor will go out or not, the information includes a daily weather forecast. It will also show a summary of events that are happening in the city in that month. This information is presented in the form of a "story."

On the home page the user can view all the events along with any artifact collections they might find intresting. The recommendations are based on what the users interactions and interests. This is a major part because they might even help a visitor without any plan to choose what to do when they visit the museums.

2- Planning the Tour: Visitors can create their own plans that fits their schedule or, if they have nothing specific in mind, they can simply select one of the predesigned tours that features the most popular locations.

Visitors can design custom tours that exclusively cover the specific artifacts or historical eras they want to view if the predesigned tours aren't sufficient. 

3- Experience Phase: When the tour begins, the visitors are presented a map with details about the destinations they will visit, the estimated time of arrival, information about the museums, the ticket they purchased, and Müzekart (yearly subscription).

If the user customizes the tour, it will only display the artifacts in which the user may be interested, and users will be guided through the entire experience by information, audio or sometimes videos created by professional historians. Each page of an artifact is devoted to providing information to the audience.

A visitor to the museum for research purposes can create their own artifact collections and even share them with others via links. In this experience phase; we covered all three types of visitors and tried to design the journey as efficient as possible.

4- Upgrading the Plan: One of the objectives of our project was to increase the number of annual subscriptions sold to those who frequently visit museums. Since Müzekart (a yearly membership) could only be acquired via physical retailers, we wanted to make it digital to make purchasing it easier.

Visitors will see a non-distracting advertisement for Müzekart on the checkout page, where they can choose to use it to pay for the tour.

To interact with the prototype click here and
if you are interested in reading more click here to read the book.

5- My Metrics:  We experienced some moments of frustration during the course of the process, but I’m being honest here, because we as a team were organised and time-oriented people we were able to accomplish our goals without almost any difficulty. However, the thing we underestimated was the bureaucratic processes and the many missing contents from several museums that have to be organized and added to the database later on. Despite the fact that this app might be expanded and the design could be reiterated, I would say that we were successful given the timeframe and the goals we set. 

An abstract, angular face graphic in red

©Murathan Biliktü, 2022