A wicked problem is a complex social or cultural issue that is difficult to define, and even harder to solve. Wicked problems require a different approach, one that involves creativity, innovation, and collaboration.
In this project, I worked with Sandra Möeck, Felix Schweizer and Rosanna Nardelli. We’re a group of creative souls who decided to jump into de UX/UI world and we survived our first project experience by using design thinking. We manage to learn how to approach the problem with empathy, creativity, and a willingness to iterate and refine our solutions based on feedback from the users.
Since the 1970s, museums and other public institutions have been suffering a profound crisis. The purpose of this type of institution, is to make heritage accessible to everyone.
“How might we help museums and other public institutions fulfilling their mission of preserving cultural heritage while making it accessible to a wider audience?”
Design thinking is a problem-solving methodology that is well-suited for addressing wicked problems. It is a human-centered approach that focuses on understanding the needs of the people affected by the problem, and developing solutions that are responsive to those needs.
How do we start to get into this adventure? We empathize with our user.
A secondary research is the process of analyzing existing data and information collected by others.
While doing my Secondary Research, I discovered Museum Next, a leading network for those working in museums. With numerous items to dust off, I came across the section of articles related to Marketing, especially one titled “How Can Museums Attract More Visitors?”. And rightly so, I’m sure that heading was going to give me valuable information for this project.
Making your collections searchable online, giving clear descriptions of upcoming and current exhibitions along with online previews not only helps people understand what they will be entering into but also allows people to imagine themselves in that environment.
This is only an excerpt from Carly Straughan’s very comprehensive and detailed article (you can read the complete article here). She explains very eloquently the generational changes, new features and demands of users who live with a whole world in the palm of their hands.
After collecting all our findings during our Secondary Research, we decided to tackle this complex problem with a qualitative research methodology, with 4 user interviews. Why? Because it’s time to understand our potential user first-hand.
Here are the three main reasons for our decision:
- In-depth information: Interviews allow us to gather detailed and in-depth information about our particular problem.
- Flexibility: Interviews can be conducted in a variety of formats, such as in-person, over the phone, or via video conferencing. This flexibility allows us to adapt to the needs and preferences of the interviewee and makes it easier to schedule and conduct interviews.
- Targeted questions: Interviews can be tailored to suit the specific needs of our project, meaning that we can ask targeted questions to elicit the desired information. This allows us to gather information that is relevant and useful to their research goals and objectives.
We decided to design an interview with open-ended questions, focused on understanding the needs of this new generation of users, their concerns and interests in order to devise a solution for our Wicked Problem. Our user were interviewed in a Google Meeting, for 40min and they were between the ages of 25 and 35 years old.
Some of the questions were:
- Have you ever been to a museum before? If so, what did you think of the experience?
- What do you typically do for leisure or entertainment?
- Can you describe your perception of museums and what you think they offer?
- Have you ever had a negative experience at a museum that has influenced your decision not to go back?
Our main goal was to understand our users’ relationship with museums. How they feel, think and communicate in relation to this topic and after talking to them, we were able to confirm what Carly Straughan told us in her article:
For some potential museum visitors the ability to preview a show, exhibition or collection can actually improve the chances that they will attend in real life.
“Advertisements about museums are not present, they are not loud enough, not bright enough”
“I am bored at museums”
“Museums are about the past. I would be more interested in seeing something about the future”
“Museum tickets are expensive”
Overall, the insights gathered suggest that museums may not be effectively reaching their target audience through advertising and marketing efforts. Additionally, some visitors may not find museum exhibits engaging enough, with some expressing boredom during their visit. It was also noted that museums may need to expand their focus beyond the past, as visitors may be more interested in exhibits that explore the future. Finally, the cost of museum tickets was identified as a barrier for some potential visitors. Addressing these insights through strategic marketing efforts, innovative exhibit design, and pricing strategies may help museums better connect with visitors and increase engagement with their exhibits.
As a researcher or designer, I find that conducting interviews with target users or audiences can provide valuable insights into their needs and preferences. I record the interview data and then analyze it to identify common themes and patterns using an Affinity Diagram. Next, I develop an Empathy Map to help me understand the user’s perspective and feelings based on the interview data.
Then we create a User Persona, which is a fictional representation of a typical user, based on the interview data. This helps us better understand the user’s needs, goals, and pain points.
For our project, the social factor has been a determining factor, which is why our User Persona has these characteristics. A friendly personality and with needs highly connected to their personal relationships and activities to socialize and relate to their environment.
Finally, I use the User Persona and Empathy Map to develop a User Journey, which outlines the steps a user takes when interacting with the product or service. By following this process, I can create user-centered designs that meet the needs of the target audience or user group.
Social Sam is invited to the museum by a friend but feels overwhelmed by the information he gets on the internet. He decides to go anyway, and at first he feels bored of the visit because they don’t find anything interesting. However, they come across something that catches their attention, and this makes them more interested in the exhibits. As they continue exploring, they become increasingly engaged and start to enjoy themselves. By the end of the visit, they feel happy that they came to the museum and learned something new. This user journey shows how someone’s experience can change from negative to positive with the right discovery, engagement, and enjoyment. It also emphasizes the importance of having something that appeals to the user’s interests and needs, which can make a big difference in their overall experience.
When creating a problem statement for a project, we first start by identifying the specific problem that needs to be addressed. This problem should be something that the project can realistically solve or improve. Then, we need to define the problem in clear, concise terms that are easily understandable for the project team. It’s important to make sure the problem statement is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART).
After going through all this empathy journey, as a team we came up with this Problem Statement:
Curious, socially-minded millennials seek out engaging and entertaining museums and exhibitions that match their interests, desiring to be educated in history, art, and culture, whilst remaining engaged and free from boredom.
Ideate is a crucial stage in the design thinking methodology, where we aim to generate as many ideas as possible to solve the problem we have identified. This stage is all about thinking creatively and critically to come up with innovative solutions that can address the user’s needs and pain points. During the Ideate stage, we use a range of ideation techniques such as brainstorming, mind mapping, and sketching to generate ideas and concepts.
This is an actual structure of my first proposal for our digital solution to the problem we have set for ourselves.
Select interests by #topic
Home page (view):
Top 5: most visited in the city
Recommendations of the week / day: Short videos
Opportunities: latest tickets / promotions
Integration to view instagram post / reels
Find a guide
Find a new friend to go with
After selecting a museum:
Select number of tickets
Map: how to get there
The “Cultural Wizard” app is designed to make museum visits more interesting and engaging for millennials. The app allows users to select their city and interests by topic, such as art, history, or science. On the home page, users can view the top 5 most visited museums in the city and receive recommendations for the week or day in the form of short videos.
The app also provides users with the latest ticket and promotional opportunities, as well as reviews from other users. The social component of the app allows users to view Instagram posts and reels from the museum, find a guide for their visit, and even find a new friend to go with.
After selecting a museum, users can view a photo gallery, videos, and a description of the museum’s events. The app also includes an availability calendar and allows users to select the number of tickets they need. Finally, the app provides a map to help users find their way to the museum.
With “Cultural Wizard”, millennials can discover new museums, learn about upcoming events and promotions, and connect with others who share their interests in a fun and interactive way.
This sketches are our proposed solutions to a problem we have identified in our project. By visualizing our ideas and concepts, we aim to communicate our suggested solution more effectively and allow for constructive feedback from our team members.
Having a low-fidelity wireframe for concept testing is important because it allows you to test your basic concept and user flows without getting bogged down in details. Low-fidelity wireframes are quick and easy to create, making it possible to get feedback early in the design process.
The user found the concept and user flow to be well thought out and intuitive. They navigated the design easily and did not encounter any major usability issues during testing. The prototype felt polished, and the user could easily see themselve using the product in the future. Overall, the user was impressed with the prototype and thinks it has the potential to be a valuable tool for its intended audience.
After concept testing with a low-fidelity wireframe, creating a mid-fidelity wireframe is the next step in the design process. Here are a few reasons why a mid-fidelity wireframe is important:
- Refine the design: Mid-fidelity wireframes provide more detail and specificity than low-fidelity wireframes, which allows for a more refined design.
- Test functionality: Mid-fidelity wireframes allow for testing of more complex functionality and user flows. This type of wireframe can help identify usability issues and areas for improvement before moving on to a high-fidelity prototype.
- Gather feedback: Like low-fidelity wireframes, mid-fidelity wireframes can be used to gather feedback from stakeholders and users. This feedback can be used to refine the design and make necessary changes before moving on to a high-fidelity prototype.
Overall, creating a mid-fidelity wireframe is an important step in the design process because it allows for a more refined design, testing of more complex functionality, and gathering feedback from stakeholders and users.
In conclusion, on this project we used design thinking to solve a wicked problem through an iterative process of research, ideation, prototyping, and testing. By focusing on the user, we were able to gain insights and empathy that informed our design decisions throughout the project. Our final mid-fidelity wireframe reflects the culmination of this process, incorporating user feedback and refining the design based on our learnings. We believe that our digital solution has the potential to make a real impact in addressing the wicked problem we set out to solve. Through this project, we have gained a deep appreciation for the power of design thinking in addressing complex problems and creating meaningful solutions.
As a designer and researcher in this project, I can say with propriety that I have learned to design and execute an interview fluently. I learned to empathize with the user through a close and friendly communication, always with the research objectives and the problem to be solved in mind.
Through all the stages of the Design Thinking process I was able to understand more deeply the needs of our User Persona, this profile that reflects everything we learned in our research.
It has been a great challenge to put together all our ideas as a team, accepting the challenge of solving a Wicked Problem has this degree of complexity, there are too many possible scenarios and the secret is to learn to focus on a manageable portion of the problem.
In conclusion, our team was able to solve a wicked problem in UX design by utilizing design thinking methodology. By putting the user at the center of our process, we gained valuable insights, rapidly prototyped and iterated, and ultimately delivered a solution that met their needs and exceeded their expectations. This project was a testament to the power of human-centered design thinking to drive innovation and solve complex problems in the digital world, and we are proud to have applied these principles in our UX Design bootcamp project.
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