Your visitors couldn't carousel less

Carousels can be a way of deferring tough decisions about what’s most valuable to the audience. Is there a new event coming up? Drop it in the carousel. No need for discussion about how important that event is compared to everything else going on, no risk of ruffled feathers.

What people don’t realize is that practically no one sees the information in the carousel …

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“And then what?”

This is a question I find myself asking all the time with clients. 

  • Someone became a member — “And then what?” 

  • Made a donation — “And then what?”

  • Signed up for the newsletter — “And then what?” 

  • Searched the website — “And then what?” 

  • Drove past the big sign at the intersection announcing the fundraiser — “And then what?”

  • Read the postcard in the mail — “And then what?”

What happens next?

The answer is usually something like:

  • We mail them their welcome packet

  • They get our next newsletter, whenever that is

  • They find what they’re looking for, hopefully

  • They materialize, checkbook in hand, at the fundraiser

And then I say, “Let’s slow down — What happens before that? What is the next thing that shows up in front their eyeballs? What is the next thing that they feel?”

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Questions about urgency

A new list member asked a question this week (shared with permission):

We have a music theater that produces 300 shows a year. While it is a huge effort, we do well selling tickets for theater. How do we take those practices/lessons from theater ticket sales with its built-in urgency and apply it to museum admission sales where there is rarely urgency beyond monthly weekend programming and special exhibition?

So, events like concerts let the museum communicate urgency — there’s limited availability and continual change with concerts. But the core collection may not change all that often.

The question got me thinking …

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Hypothetical homework

Yesterday, I wrote about God, Satan, the vital role I played on the basketball court during middle school, and MoMA’s website.

Today, let’s look at MoMA’s site just one more time, and I’ll spare you the personal history.

In previous letters (onetwo, and three ), I’ve wondered why more museums don’t include a value proposition on their website. A value proposition describes what makes the museum different from others of its kind and expresses a point of view.

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Navigate this

I was reading about MoMA’s renovations in the Times on Saturday:

When the museum reopens in October, general admission will begin at 10 a.m. Members will have a new “dedicated entrance” and be permitted to enter at 9:30 a.m. most days.

I wondered how this information wound up in front of me, a man of somewhat short stature — but who also won a trophy for the most assists in basketball in 7th grade — living in the village of Huntington, New York.

I imagined all the work that may have happened for those two sentences to be born: People in visitor services observing long lines and registering complaints; Membership folks running satisfaction surveys …

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teardownKyle BowenMoMA
Law and Order: DRU

On Friday, I wrote how technology can reveal rifts within organizations and that a collaborative culture is a critical ingredient for design research to flourish. I wrote about secret agents clad in body armor knocking down murderous gatekeepers’ office doors. 

I spent the weekend thinking about how dramatizing those relationships makes for a more vivid story — or at least one that’s more fun to write — but it’s also unfair to the people who play those roles in real life. Add just a few drops of context and history and you’d begin to sympathize with the villain and root against the hero …

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Kyle Bowen
Hold on to your secret agents

Technology and design research have a way of exposing fractures within an organization.

Take Google Analytics as an example. For it to really provide any value to an organization, you have to create goals. Goals are what let you identify positive and negative patterns around more meaningful KPIs — things like …

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Kyle Bowen
Design research family tree

The other day I was on the phone with George Berlin, an animator and illustrator who was telling me about recent projects he’s completed for a few museums and libraries. I was curious to know more about George’s work, which dovetails with recent letters about AR, and how cultural organizations think about the role of art installations. George kindly gave me permission to write about our conversation here.

I wanted to understand what sort of research fuels George’s work, how it might be used to influence visitor behavior in a way that is advantageous for the museum, and how museums might measure the impact or value of the work.

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Kyle Bowen