Our work is never done: Evaluation and iteration for a new audio guide

Natalia Hudelson, The British Museum, UK, Casey Scott-Songin, British Museum, UK, Han Li, British Museum, UK

Published paper: Our work is never done: evaluation and iteration for a new audio guide

In December 2015, the British Museum launched a new audio guide. Based on extensive generative user research (Mannion, Sabiescu, & Robinson, 2015), its design and functionality challenge the traditional notion of an audio guide and provide multiple ways to engage with content, wayfinding, and object information. We embrace the notion of iterative product development and wanted to improve the audio guide product that has now been “on the market” for over six months. Too often, the concept of “iteration” is used in reference to technological development, with user research limited to a/b testing of designs for immediate implementation. We took a broader view and chose to spend significant time and budget conducting evaluative user research to understand what we did (and didn’t) get right in the first version of this new audio guide.

In this paper, we explore and share four key points: our long-term goals for undertaking this research; our methodology for conducting it; lessons learned and advice for other institutions; and, our revised strategy for the digital product. Through our most recent user research, we were able to observe significantly different visitor expectations for and use of the audio guides amongst three linguistic groups, giving us the opportunity to consider how we may change the digital experience to accommodate these varied expectations and experiences. Our conclusions will be of interest to any cultural organization building mobile digital products, and especially those serving a multilingual population.

Mannion, Shelley, Amalia Sabiescu and William Robinson. "An audio state of mind: Understanding behaviour around audio guides and visitor media." MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015. Published February 1, 2015.