New Orleans Museum of Art
Growing A Digital Program
We first partnered with the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) in 2014 to begin building a digital interpretation program. Within one year, NOMA transformed from having no digital program to becoming a multi-award-winning trendsetter in the region. NOMA, like many museums, does not have a dedicated ‘digital team’ and runs the program through the Education & Interpretation Department. Using the CultureConnect platform, non-technical staff were empowered to not only update existing applications, but add-on new experiences and track performance.
NOMA created digital experiences that are educational, self-guided, and enable a deeper and wider exploration of the Museum’s collection. They accomplished this through two main avenues: a campus-wide mobile guide and a collection of in-gallery digital labels they call ARTtabs.
The mobile guide began with three tours – Director’s Highlights; International Collection Highlights; and a Sculpture Garden Tour. In subsequent years, the app grew to include additional tours such as a more traditional Family Friendly Tour to the more creative Poetry Tour featuring poems written by high schoolers after viewing an artwork.
In the first year, NOMA launched four digital labels but their program now boasts over ten digital labels placed throughout the museum’s galleries. While the overall user interface design is consistent throughout, the colors are customized to reflect the artwork or gallery featured in the application. Visitors use hotspots, or animated touch points, to intuitively navigate through layered, multi-media interpretation.
- Digital Labels
- Mobile Guide
- Prototype Testing
- User Testing & Evaluation
- Gold Medal, Mobile Applications, 2015, SEMC
- Gold Medal, Gallery Installations, 2015, SEMC
- “Your Museum, Your Community: How New Orleans uses digital interactives to build community and celebrate culture”, 2016, MCN
NOMA’s digital labels are displayed on iPad kiosks in front of artworks, installations and galleries. Media-rich, layered interpretation accessed through animated touch points or ‘hotspots’ and what we call ‘learn more’ buttons.
The first ARTtab created for a crown jewel in the museum’s collection, A Portrait of Marie Antoinette by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, explores the painting’s symbolism and the nature of portraiture. It also serves as an anchor point to introduce related works in the gallery seamlessly incorporating the Portrait of King Louis XVI hanging on the adjacent wall and directs visitors to explore portraits on view throughout the museum.
SKIMMERS, SWIMMERS, & DIVERS
Like most museums, NOMA seeks to engage a wide cross-section of the public, from tech savvy visitors to digital novices. The digital labels at NOMA have simple, intuitive navigation making them appealing to all. The layered content also takes care of addressing a wide-range of visitor intentions and engagement levels. For example, a Skimmer who only has a few moments can quickly engage with the app without a learning curve. A Swimmer or Diver – those with more time or interest – can read top level information and tap into ‘learn more’ buttons when they want to explore more.
Visitor engagement with NOMA’s mobile guide and digital labels is tracked in the Data & Analytics Dashboard in the CultureConnect Platform. NOMA can see typical metrics such as number of sessions, session length, average page views per session and the most visited pages. We can also trace the user’s pathway through the app understanding how many layers a visitor dives into and under what circumstances. For example, it’s not uncommon to see a 50% drop off rate for click throughs to each successive layer of content. However, when you examine this for specific hotspots – rather than the aggregate average – you see that there are some hotspots with higher and lower drop off rates.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
To encourage reflection and dialog, NOMA included a “Share Your Thoughts” page that has featured either multiple choice or free response questions. They have also turned on the feature to collect email addresses.
Looking again at the digital label for A Portrait of Marie Antoinette, NOMA asks “Who are today’s trendsetters?” encouraging visitors to reflect on both Marie Antoinette as a trendsetter while connecting it to contemporary society. Popular visitor responses include Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, but also often family members!
The second question, “What objects would you include in your portrait to express your personality” asks visitors to make a personal connection with the work of art while digesting the symbolism in portraiture discussed throughout the digital label.
Visitor results are viewed by NOMA staff, can be repurposed or learned from, and the questions can be adjusted at any time. The email addresses collected on this page help build NOMA’s e-newsletter list.
HOW WE GOT THERE: PROTOTYPE TESTING
The digital label product – like all of our products – are developed with extensive user testing. We took three main steps in this process: First, we created wireframes to explore the overall user interface design. Then, we developed two variations of mockups with real content and assembled them into interactive prototypes. We used these prototypes to conduct user testing and incorporate feedback into the final designs. Images shown above highlight this three phase progression for the main hotspot page.
Throughout the wire-framing, mockup/prototyping and final design phases, we refined the application’s information architecture, navigation, and UX goals and intentions. Visitors used two prototypes in the gallery while we observed, interviewed and surveyed them to understand what was working and what needed to evolve.
One validation that came through user testing and observation was witnessing visitors look up and down between the digital label and the painting, effectively cycling through the steps of learning, looking deeper, processing. We also identified problematic experiences such as pages with too much text content or too many navigation options to consider. You’ll see in the final version of the hotspot page that the navigation is very simple (only one decision to make and nothing to read) while the hotspots themselves are more bold and obvious (and animated).