The ROM-Mate

UX/UI Case Study
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A Digital Museum Companion

Enhancing the in-person museum experience for visitors through the art of storytelling and building narratives.

 

Project Overview

As cultural institutions, museums are places for discovery, learning, and discussion. Our team had the opportunity to partner with the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for our capstone project. The ROM is Canada's largest museum and showcases a vast collection of artwork, cultural pieces, and natural history artifacts from around the world.

 

Our capstone challenge was to design a digital product that enhances the museum experience and encourages memorability.

Industry Partners

Sheridan College & the ROM

Team

Christie, Sakshi, Sakina, Sajal

Role

User Research

UX/UI Design

Information Architecture

User Testing

Timeframe

4 months

Tools

Figma

Whimsical

Mural

Challenge

Sometimes museum exhibitions can be boring and make your eyes glaze over. With multiple exhibitions spanning several floors, remembering everything seen during a visit to the museum can be challenging and overwhelming. Lack of context or interesting narrative to what is on display is a barrier to user engagement and retention, making it difficult for visitors to remember the artifacts and content even after taking images.

 

From first-hand experience, we noticed that many museum artifacts and objects are presented with no additional context on why this piece matters. Without being given background information or captivating stories, visitors may not understand the relevance or importance of what they see and unable to fully relate or engage with museum offerings.

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How might we extend the museum experience beyond the physical visit?

 

Solution

People want to understand and know more about the artifacts presented in a museum. We know that the most appealing and engaging exhibitions are the ones that tell us a story or have a theme that ties what is on display into a cohesive tale that visitors can easily remember and take away. Our app, the ROM-Mate, is a digital docent that adds value to the in-person visit at the museum by weaving artifacts into an overarching narrative that visitors can follow to learn more about the pieces they see before them.  Users are able to engage on more genuine level with artifacts by getting deeper insights into their history and meaning.

  • Provides a place for users to collect and save images and information about what they see on their museum visit for greater after-visit retention and memorability.

  • Connects museum artifacts to each other through a storytelling narrative that inspires greater interactivity and engagement.

  • Motivates users to tour throughout the whole museum and understand how different exhibitions may relate to each other.

Our product:

 

App Features

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Story Tours

Follow one of many Story Tours to weave through the museum and explore new sights and objects.

  • Select a story tour based on personal interests or by length of time available 

  • Story Tours can take you through one or multiple exhibitions

  • Tours can be catered by audience - specific tours are available for kids and youth

 

Discovery and Learning

Learn about the history and significance behind each piece on the Story Tour - why is it important? Why is it on display? What does it mean? Find the next artifact on your Tour using live navigation assistance.

  • Follow the audio guide or skip to a section to learn more about the artifact

  • Get a quick summary or take a deep dive through audio listening, reading text descriptions, or watching videos

  • Navigational tool provides an A/R visual guide to direct users in finding the artifact

 

Capture the Sights

Take a photo of artifacts and more using the in-app camera.

  • Photos are automatically stored in your 'Saved' photo galleries. 

  • Remember the details of your visit by having the option to add captions to photos taken. 

  • Photos and notes are stored in the same galleries for a journalistic experience. 

 

Saving Memories

Keep favourite or interesting artifacts and sights in your personal 'Saved' tab. Revisit your story journey anytime, even after leaving the museum.

  • Bookmarks are organized by Story Tour

  • Saved articles and photos taken during a Tour are consolidated together

 

 
 

User Research

Our research was guided by our primary question:

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How can we bring more fun, interactivity, and engagement to a museum experience while also encouraging discussions?

Research Goals

Our research goal was to find out what draws people to museums and what constitutes a memorable museum experience for them. We aimed to develop a better museum experience and find a way to engage and connect with visitors and authentically bring current topics and events into the ROM by proposing a way to make the museum experience approachable and memorable.

Research Insights

We conducted 6 remote interviews (30-40 min) with current or avid gallery or museum-goers to gain deeper insights into their pains and needs when visiting a museum. Through our semi-structured interviews, we identified several key insights:

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User Persona & Journey

We developed a user persona and their journey map based on our research insights to better empathise with our intended user on their pain points. Meet Chihiro - a 28-year-old Torontonian who loves history and mythology. Museum-going is one of her favourite activities and she makes sure to dedicate the day to her visit. During and after her visit, she likes to settle down and capture her favourite moments on her phone or in her journal.

Journey Map

Chihiro's journey map follows her steps from discovery and decision to visit the museum to how she will remember her trip afterwards. Her main journey stages are: discovering a new or exciting exhibition, planning her visit to the museum, setting the tone on the day of her museum trip, exploring the exhibit, reflecting on her trip, and post-visit engagement and memory.

Keeping our design challenge in mind, we identified several major pain points in the latter half of Chihiro's visit. We also began pinpointing places for opportunities we could tackle.

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Sketch & Ideation

Our team used various brainstorming methods like HMW statements to ideate new ways to engage new and returning visitors. Using the Crazy 8's exercise, I drew inspiration from treasure hunts and Pick-Your-Own-Adventure pathways during my ideation process. Moving forward, we evaluated all of our ideas together and merged our designs into a first prototype.

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User Flow

We developed a user flow to outline navigation of our app's main features.

 

User Testing

We conducted two rounds of user testing with 3 participants each. Our main goals were to test for navigation, functionality, and if our product provides users with a fulfilling experience.

Round 1

Round 1 of user testing had 2 main goals:

  1. To determine the ease and intuition of navigation through the app

  2. To test the app's effectiveness in getting users to engage with what they see at the museum

Our test script asked users to explore the core features of our app, allowing us to understand where the user flow challenges were and where users struggled the most. Following the first round of testing, we received much feedback and actionable pain points to lead our next set of iterations.

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Round 2

Round 2 of user testing had a different set of goals. Between the two rounds, we had developed two new features and improved the functionality of previous ones.

  1. Is the intended user flow intuitive and easy to navigate?

  2. Has the changed layout and design removed previous bottlenecks?

  3. Is the app symbiotic to the in-person museum experience and does it provide quality interactive components?

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The feedback from these user tests informed the final changes we made to our high-fidelity prototype. We used the insights and feedback to develop a list of changes. We used the MoSCoW framework to organize and prioritize the most important changes to be incorporated during the next phase of iteration after both rounds of testing. If we had additional time and resources, there were more ideas and changes to be made.

Low-Fidelity to High-Fidelity Iteration

View the iteration process for some of our core features:

Home Page

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Story Tour Selection

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Selected Story Tour

Artifact Title Page

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Bookmarks Page

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Artifact Information

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High-Fidelity Prototype

Try our prototype!