Anonymous and Cheap: Experimenting with Unobtrusive Methods of Measuring User Experience and Engagement for In-Gallery Interactives

Brian Hewitt, Corning Museum of Glass, USA

Published paper: Anonymous and cheap: Experimenting with unobtrusive methods of measuring user experience and engagement for in-gallery interactives

Anonymously used in-gallery digital interactives may have lower barriers to visitor usage than downloaded apps, purpose-built devices, or even Web apps. But because of that anonymity—and their typical nature as single “page,” limited purpose, context-sensitive, nonlinear, or non-conversion oriented applications—they can present challenges in meaningful engagement data collection and user experience analysis. Both high-tech and low-tech tools and techniques exist, but these can be expensive, imprecise, intrusive, or time-consuming. In this paper, we examine methods and techniques to gather user experience and engagement data in inexpensive and unobtrusive ways, which we have been exploring over the course of several exhibitions and multiple installed digital interactives. The use of inexpensive security-style cameras combined with data forms geared toward rapid, simple input allows for more naturalistic observation of more visitors in less time, and for the collection of standardized, quantitative data. Programming of the interactives can include custom analytics events and rough session estimations based on user activity and idle times. These methods are not necessarily meant to be definitive but may provide alternatives where other methods are not feasible or desirable. In cases where other tools are available, combining these techniques may provide a richer picture of the overall effectiveness of installed interactives.

Baldwin, T. and L.T. Kuriakose, Cheap, Accurate RFID Tracking of Museum Visitors for Personalized Content Delivery. In J. Trant and D. Bearman (eds). Museums and the Web 2009: Proceedings. Toronto: Archives & Museum Informatics. Published March 31, 2009. Consulted September 28, 2017.

Brunelli R., Lanz O., Santuari A., Tobia F. (2007) Tracking Visitors in a Museum. In: Stock O., Zancanaro M. (eds) PEACH - Intelligent Interfaces for Museum Visits. Cognitive Technologies. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Dilenschneider, Colleen. “Are Mobile Apps Worth It For Cultural Organizations? (DATA).” Know Your Own Bone, 26 June 2017, Accessed 30 Sept. 2017.

Faragher, R., Harle, R., "An Analysis of the Accuracy of Bluetooth Low Energy for Indoor Positioning Applications," Proceedings of the 27th International Technical Meeting of The Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2014), Tampa, Florida, September 2014, pp. 201-210.

Hammersley, Martyn, and Paul Atkinson. Ethnography: principles in practice. London, Routledge, 2010.

Obrien, Heather L., and Elaine G. Toms. “What is user engagement? A conceptual framework for defining user engagement with technology.” Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, vol. 59, no. 6, 28 Feb. 2008, pp. 938–955., doi:10.1002/asi.20801.

Solis, Brian. “Shadowing in User Research - Do You See What They See?” The Interaction Design Foundation, June 2017, Accessed 28 Sept. 2017.

Strohmaier, Robert, Gerhard Sprung, Alexander Nischelwitzer and Sandra Schadenbauer. "Using visitor-flow visualization to improve visitor experience in museums and exhibitions." MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015. Published January 15, 2015. Consulted September 28, 2017.

Tarr, Matthew. "Location, location, location! The proliferation of indoor positioning and what it means and doesn’t mean for museums." MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015. Published January 31, 2015. Consulted September 30, 2017.