Quantitative research, qualitative research, heat mapping and analytics all have a part to play in understanding the user experience.
But what if the user experience is a bit more complex than a website or an app? What if people had to navigate a heritage site, a museum or an art gallery while holding a bespoke digital device? What if the content on that device was considered, by the organisation, an essential element of their visit experience? And what if the interface, architecture or content on that device hadn’t been tested?
The visitor is having to negotiate a physical space, a digital space and take in information on skeletons of giant pre-historic sloths (they existed, I’ll bring a picture), or try and grasp the nuances of Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionist works. The cognitive load is immense, so how do visitors find this experience?
Go along with them and find out, that’s what I do. Be that third wheel or gooseberry, be Louis Theroux during their visit (with their consent of course).
Breaking down the ‘fourth wall’ is an expression borrowed from the world of theatre acting where the actor speaks directly to the audience, shattering the illusion of a barrier between them. Here, researcher ‘goes native’ with the visitor becomes a proxy for the organisation, doing the visit with the visitor.
It’s a kind of meta-approach, but it’s a very useful way to discover pain points in both the physical and digital elements of their visit and allows me, as a UX and VX professional to see through the visitors’ eyes, almost literally (but not in a creepy way).
I’ll be discussing the insights gained through this approach, dinosaurs, castles, modern art and qualitative interviews and ethnography as part of a suite of research methods for human-centered design.