Visitors of all ages flock to the Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley to engage with cutting edge science. So when this hands-on learning center asked us to reinvent their museum experience, we partnered with Tessitura specialists at JCA to create an imaginative, interactive and social experience that would occur both in and out of the museum. The new website would be designed to adapt to visitor needs and preferences and empower them to learn, explore, and collaborate.
The experience had to integrate the museum’s desktop website, mobile website, gallery kiosks and electronically aware exhibits. Many of The Tech’s exhibits have interactive components that take visitor photos, videos or monitor experiments. Our interface would give users access to these digital artifacts, plus related content and social features. There were several more key requirements. The system needed to adhere to ADA wheelchair accessibility standards, support an audio interface for the sight impaired, and support multiple languages. It also needed to comply with COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), yet still deliver shared, social engagement. In addition, the system needed to offer different functionality at the museum vs. off-site.
We did in-depth user research, created mobile and touchscreen prototypes, and conducted iterative usability testing for multiple device sizes. From there we created an intuitive interface with a modern look and feel. We developed my.thetech.org as a single, HTML5-coded, mobile-friendly website that adapts to provide touch-screen interaction on museum kiosks, and provides added functionality on web and mobile devices when users are at The Tech.
With the new my.thetech.org, visitors can plan museum trips, schedule events and share itineraries. They can safely share their activity and view activity for family, friends or classmates. The digital jewel in their crown is our RFID-enhanced museum map. The map remembers a visitor’s past activity and highlights exhibits not yet seen. The map also provides a way for groups or families to stay connected at the museum, allowing visitors to track themselves or other group members on a real time, responsive map interface available via personal device or museum kiosk.
Our final design direction combined aspects of two other concepts. While the client wanted a lighter look overall, we made sure to test different UI looks on phone and kiosk screens in the museum galleries. The selected direction combines darker menu items with a light gray (but not bright white) background to enable readability in multiple lighting environments.
In brighter areas of the museum, darker design directions made content very challenging for people to see, whereas designs with light colors made content difficult for them to see in the museum’s many dimly-lit gallery spaces.
Once the final design was chosen, we extended the look to the kiosks and mobile devices to enhance the visitor experience inside the museum.
We developed custom avatars for users to select during account setup.
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