When to Ask and When to Shut Up

Visitors’ enthusiasm for “new” and “cool” digital interactives quickly turns sour if the reality of using them is confusing, frustrating, or distracts from the exhibit itself. It’s critical to talk to visitors about their experiences, but getting constructive feedback is not as simple as just asking. People may know that they are confused, but not why, or what to do about it. In this interactive session, you’ll learn observational and interviewing techniques that go beyond what visitors say to reveal what they actually know, how they think, and what they need. We’ll highlight common sources of frustration in digital experiences, such as lack of clarity about purpose, difficulty navigating available options, ambiguous language, and challenges with gestural interfaces. With real-life examples from museums and other institutions, we’ll illustrate these difficulties and show how the causes of the problems may not be evident by only watching visitors or asking them questions. Next, we’ll demonstrate a series of techniques for observing and interviewing visitors that enable you to diagnose the underlying causes of their difficulties, including: • The question funnel: Start with open-ended questions to get visitors talking; focus on more specific inquiries over time. Learn how to avoid leading the visitor to provide the answers you want or expect. • Hypothesis-testing with tasks: Give visitors a specific goal and watch while they attempt to accomplish it. Identify unexpected paths and unanticipated roadblocks, and learn why they are occurring. • Just-in-time probing: Use verbal, facial and body language cues to know when you should jump in with a question and when to let the visitor respond on their own. We’ll also share tips for drawing out visitors who are shy, focusing people who stray off track, and gathering constructive criticism from those who are eager to please. Speaker(s) Session Leader : Kathi Kaiser, Partner, Centralis MCN 2016 Presenting Sponsor: Piction New Orleans, LA