CROSSROADS AT MS. GRAMMY MUSEUM

LINEAGE OF INSPIRATION

Crossroads is a multi-user touch table that allows users to explore a rich database of historical and contemporary American musicians. It features a unique ‘Lineage of Inspiration’ navigation that reveals unpredictable connections and influences between past and contemporary artists.

MY ROLE

I was a project creative lead and UX designer throughout the project lifecycle. Oversee a cross-disciplinary team of visual designers, software developers, and custom hardware integrators. Manage client relations and collaborate with content experts. Deliverables include; interaction flows, information architecture, wireframes, hi-fidelity prototypes & user testing, specs for developers, CMS specs and usability.

EXPERIENCE GOALS

  1. Provide playful navigation of a rich archive of data and media (audio/video)
  2. Engage multiple users in a shared experience
  3. Highlight the historical and global impact of the featured musicians

RESEARCH

Initial content research targeted essential categories such as chronology, genre, and discography. Field observations of a previous build at the LA Grammy museum found that these themes often lead to a dead end when users only search for familiar artists and genres.

INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE

Challenge – How might we entice users to discover unexpected content during a short timed engagement?

Additional research revealed a broad network of influence between artists across countries and generations. Mapping this network unlocked a new mode of navigation that I coined ‘Lineage of Inspiration’.

Hierarchical categories, chronology and taxonomies set the foundation patterns of navigation. Mapping the Lineage of Inspiration required academic research and vetting by expert curators as it is mostly interpretive and speculated. This mode provides a parallel way of organic navigation that is optional at any point.

INTERACTION DESIGN

A large, multi-user touchscreen requires rethinking existing UI pattern and balancing unique with familiar for a playful and intuitive experience.

Challenge – How to weave individual interaction areas into a large screen that acts as a whole single canvas?

Solution & rationale – The visual metaphor of the Mississippi River inspired me to design an attract state that flows along the entire table as one cohesive canvas.

I started with a top-down approach, conducting table studies to understand the physical traits of up to 12 users simultaneously.

Guided navigation is available via free selection, filtering, and search. The Lineage mode takes over the main viewport as a family tree around the artist. Users often opted to use this mode exclusively, shifting between lineage and the main artist view.

Designing the visual arrangement of the Lineage ‘family tree’ went through several testing and iteration cycles that took it from an ever-branching structure to a more minimal and legible flow. We finalized the form factor during the visual design stage.

FOSTERING CONVERSATION

Multi user and sharing: Museum-goers often come as groups and tend to explore exhibits together while communicating and share the experience.

Challenge – How might we foster sharing and conversation around the table, while users wear headphones?

I experimented with different stats and trending prompts. These proved to be distracting and not very meaningful, and I omitted them entirely.

Through cycles of iterations emerged a real-time personal sharing pattern with game-like behavior. Any content object can is shareable with the immediate neighbors in an air-hockey style. This feature encourages conversation between users in a subtle and non-distracting way.

CMS USABILITY

The content architecture required multiple layers of cross-referencing between content objects. The CMS was structured to apply connection types automatically and enable easy access to editing from both detail and list views. Any lineage relation is automatically assigned two-ways, and relation anomalies are flagged.

POST LAUNCH LEARNING

The overall experience has proved to be a centerpiece in the museum. This unique navigation scheme is now implemented in a large-scale online database that is available globally through the web at

http://rofr.nmaam.org/

Year: 2016

Exhibition and Media Design: Gallagher & Associates

Software Developer: Mind Over Data

Hardware Integration: MOD Systems

Architect: Dale Partners Architects