The Finnish Natural History Museum
UX/UI Design | Brand Identity | Logo Design | Illustration | Promotional Activity
Shillington College of Graphic design Concept Project
The Finnish Museum of Natural History is an independent research institution functioning under the University of Helsinki. It is also one of the three central national museums in Finland and responsible for the national collections in its field. The collections, which include botanical, zoological, geological and paleontological specimens from all over the world, serve research in the fields of biology and geology as well as educational purposes.
I was approached to help boost the number of visitors to the museum through a new, fresh identity. The new brand needed to convey the topic of the museum, making it exciting and accessible for the audience.
In this project, I took a user-centred design approach that proved to be effective and easy to understand in my design efforts. I found the qualitative research method to be appropriate and the most useful. It consists of foundational research, competitive analysis, user interviews, and persona creation. I started by asking some initial key questions:
What is the product and who is it for?
Who are the primary users?
What do the primary users need the most?
Who do I see as the biggest competitors?
What sources should I review to familiarise myself
These questions act as a starting point to understand the overall context and situation and allow me to proceed to the next step.
The museum's current landing page and website as a whole has an outdated system. The website uses clunky construction and out-of-date plugins and is hard to manoeuver. The design makes it difficult for visitors to explore. The website was not clear, and more often than not, there were too many subpages which can leave visitors feeling lost. It needs more modern design elements and better division between sections.
A UI/UX design that uses clear information architecture, content hierarchy and clear use of alignment and graphic elements. A website which allows users to explore and find the information they are looking for with ease.
I began by creating a research plan, to align our goals and map out how to get a deep understanding of the users’ behaviours, needs and goals but also why they would want to visit this museum. Our main goals were to understand:
Why users weren’t attending the museum and their main blockers
What motivates users to attend the museum and what they get out of going
I audited industry competitors to understand how the existing museum websites are constructed. Several aspects that I reviewed are audience, first impression, user interaction, visual design and contents.
I first analysed the National Museum of Finland website, to get an in-depth understanding of what users currently experience when entering a museum website. This also gave me a feel for their existing UI and brand voice.
From here, we did some initial competitive analysis to understand what other museums in Finland were offering. I looked at the Helsinki Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art - Kiasma, as they are the top visited Museums in Finland.
Some features that stood out were the minimalistic interface, short and to the point descriptions, easily accessible content, and coherent branding.
Competitive analysis was a tool I used throughout the design process and came back to often. I found referring back to our competitors’ websites, features, wording and flows incredibly insightful for inspiring what I did and didn’t want to achieve and include in our solution further down the line.
With the research plan and initial competitive analysis complete, we started interviewing. We established the participant criteria as users who want to attend museums . We interviewed 7 users who fit the participant criteria, focusing our questions on:
How users book and find museums
Users’ emotional responses to attending museums
What users think a positive museum experience is
Users’ motivations for attending museums
These key insights fit into 3 main trends:
Not knowing what exhibitions are showing, which often stops users from attending museums; instead, users want to know what is being shown, information about the museum and details of the venue and content
Users prefer to know what other activities are available, such as, restaurants, cafes, gardens, and museum shops. This information needs to be readily available for the user.
Users prefer museums with kid friendly entertainment/activities. This allows families to spend time together.
Reviewing the insights gathered so far highlighted that the focus going forward would be on users feeling prepared and knowing what to expect at museums, as this encompasses users’ key pain points. Therefore, this is the problem that we focused on solving as we moved through the rest of the design sprint.
Using these insights, I discovered the persona. George is a 45 year old Financial advisor living in Helsinki, Finland. He loves spending time with his kids in nature and going to different museums to learn about history and art. He books 1 museum a week for him and his family to spend time together. He wants his children to explore different periods in time and learn about the past and present.
Problem Statement and How Might We Statement
With George’s needs, goals and pain points clear, we workshopped and iterated on multiple problem statements to come up with the final statement to guide our design decisions moving forward and ensure that both the designers and stakeholders were united on the problem, its significance and who it was impacting. We also came up with a How Might We statement, as a starting point to begin exploring potential solutions and ideas to solve the problem:
George needs a way to feel prepared about the museum he is attending, because he needs to make sure that his whole family enjoys the experience, and he wants to make sure he and his kids learn something new.
How Might We Statement:
How might we create a brand concept that is playful and insightful for the individual
who is curious about the natural world, so that they can have an entertaining and educational tour in the museum
I then ran a design studio, where I had 6 minutes to sketch some ideas for solutions, which would be presented back to peers and vote on which to iterate on
Iterating on these solutions after the workshop provided a key learning for me as I realised that moving through new ideas was a more efficient problem-solving technique than defending solutions that only some of my peers were backing. In order to come to a valuable solution, I continued iterating and the more ideas I put forward, the better they became.
I constructed a user flow for the persona from start to finish as they might have different journeys. This helped me in understanding the ways the user might interact with the product, as well as allowing me to see navigation through user goals. The user flow will predict how my persona might carry out the task.
Mid-Fidelity & UX Writing
After collating and refining our final ideas, we turned our low-fi sketches into mid-fidelity wireframes.
We then conducted semi-guided, moderated tests with 6 users matching the persona to test the usability and desirability of the content in the mid-fidelity wireframes.
Overall, the feedback from testing was positive and users suggested they’d like to explore the features further. There were some usability changes to make, e.g. adding categories to the nav bar, changing some of the content and restructuring the home page.
After making some final changes, it was time to finalise the UI elements and move on to high-fidelity. I decided to give the website a different identity, using different colours and graphic elements.
High-Fidelity Prototype & Solution
To round off the project, we presented the final prototype to peers, taking them through our findings and how we got to the final designs.
Manchester International Festival