THE MAX

MAPPING THE VISITOR JOURNEY

The MAX (Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience) is a place for learning about the musicians, actors, artists, and writers from Mississippi and the landscape and culture that shaped their creativity. Artists’ stories unfold through hands-on interaction with objects, environments and digital interfaces. This is the story of developing a cultural institute from the ground up as a holistic educational and experiential product.

MY ROLE

I worked on this project as a UX designer and an overall creative lead, guiding the development of a series of digital installations and apps with a  cross-disciplinary team of designers, software developers, architects, and content strategists.

 

INSPIRATION BY NATURE

The MAX was initially conceived as a Hall of Fame exhibition featuring notable Mississippian artists.

A dive into the content revealed a deep connection between artistic expressions and the cultural and natural environments that shaper their inspiration that informed a direction of placemaking, looking at Mississippi both as an environment and as a backplate for creativity.

EXPERIENCE STRATEGY

TRANSFORMING VISITOR INTO CREATORS

I led a strategy phase to define the visitor journey through value proposition, experience models, community connections and the design guidelines to achieve them.

1 –  EXPERIENCE GOALS

I then set out to brainstorm the guiding principles with curators and stakeholders that was a balancing act of three components. 

Aligning the visitor’s point of view with the stakeholders’ goals paved the way to understanding the essence of the experience and visitors’ takeaway.

2 – USER RESEARCH

Provisional visitor personas backed by fields research and stakeholders interviews pointed mainly at visual and hands-on learning styles that guided the design and content approach throughout the project.

3 – WHAT’S OUT THERE?

Comparative analysis – We looked at comparable projects that lay beyond traditional museums and the mental models that they deploy to deliver ideas and narratives.

Experience models – Based on the analysis, we distilled a set of experience models – community-hub, theatrical and didactic that we mapped to the floor plan and the overarching visitor journey.

4 – CONTENT STRATEGY

The challenge: Crystalizes academic research into building blocks for interaction design.

I collaborated with a content strategist and subject matter experts to define the lenses, tone of voice and depth of the content for each experience. A critical decision was to face and acknowledge controversial issues and inconvenient history.

MAPPING IT TOGETHER

We then consolidated all our findings into the journey map components.

PEOPLE

  • Actions — What people are doing?
  • Emotions — Their needs, feelings, and perceptions
  • Thinking — What are visitors’ questions or concerns?

TOUCH-POINTS

The people, places, things, devices, and products making up the experience. Conversation opportunities with other visitors and museum staff, web and social media communication channels and user-generated content.

PAIN-POINTS

physical obstacles and bottlenecks, potential content and language barriers and broken UX and hardware integration.

ACROSS TIME

  • Pre-visit – Communication and advertising channels; formal and casual. What are the catalysts for visitors and the perceived value-proposition? 
  • Visit – All on-site activities and experiences and entry points.
  • Post-visit – Identify platforms for follow-up conversations and sharing that integrate with the MAX’s brand and online properties; Consider a mobile companion app and personal microsite to publish and share artwork and digital takeaways.

Synthesizing all these findings and components came together in a team-wide workshop to map the typical visitor-journey across locations, interaction with digital interfaces, objects, and other people.

NOW MAKE IT!

Armed with the visitor journey, flow, and guiding principles we could dive into the design development and production of The MAX with the confidence of a holistic vision as a beacon throughout the whole project lifecycle.

WHAT I LEARNED

Post-launch observations reveal a broader, more complex picture of additional dimensions and variables of the experience journey; many are non-linear and via multiple entry-points. A challenge for future projects would be to develop a modular mapping system that continuously evolves to capture these dimensions as they emerge through an iterative design process.

THE MAX

DIGITAL EXHIBITS SAMPLER

The Water - Painterly boat ride
The Land - Artist Studio
The Community - Juke Joint
Stories from the Schoolyard
People and Places - Cultural Trails
Takeaway - Personal microsite

Year: 2018

Planning & Exhibition Design:  Gallagher & Associates

Architect: LPK Architects