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Tangelo Creative - UX designers and Exhibition designers

UX designers can learn a lot from exhibition designers

Museum designers have been thinking of UX for hundreds of years. So, it’s not new to the digital space.

We often work with clients on their websites, interpretive trails, signage and visitor information displays. We always emphasise that they need to keep their written content brief and interesting and think about the needs of their visitors to create a great experience. This is not easy.

So, we thought we’d share what we learned from this article on what website UX (User Experience) designers can learn from exhibition design at museums. The article was based on an interview with Beverly Serrell, an American museum exhibition designer with over 40 years of experience. Not surprisingly, her thinking and wisdom also apply to wayfinding, visitor signage and interpretative experiences.

Beverly’s thinking about how visitors take in information is influenced by the following understanding.

In an exhibition space, an interpretive trail or on a website, your visitor is not sitting down in the comfort of their home with good lighting and a cup of coffee. He or she is not starting at the beginning of a book and working their way to the end.

So, here are some key take-away points.

1.     If you provide text in multiple paragraphs, research shows that most people will read the shortest paragraph first, regardless of where it is in the layout. So, it’s a good idea to make sure that paragraph is relevant and interesting to draw the visitor in.

2.     Visitors want to read paragraphs that are 50 words or less. They are looking for the easiest way to get information or learn something that might be beneficial.

3.     Most people will not read everything. So, you cannot assume they have read the previous item, paragraph or point.

4.     People will enter and move around the space in different ways – so ensure they can find and understand the information regardless of how they arrived at that point.

5.     Good exhibit writing starts with the specific and moves to the general or starts with the present and works to the past.

6.     Test your directions with someone who might be a potential visitor but knows nothing about the space or site. If they get lost, misread or overlook something, you need to re-think the directions, layout, information, etc. It is not the user’s fault, it is the designers.

7.     Every exhibit, website or experience should have a “Big Idea” – that is, a main theme or message it is trying to convey. So, this idea has to be woven throughout the space.


By Tangelo Creative on June 8, 2018 

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