The concept of design thinking — taking into account how users interact with and experience a website or product in order to design a responsive experience — has become standard in the digital world. However, the concept of user experience is not a new concept, nor is it exclusive to sectors such as technology, design, and e-commerce. If you think about it, heritage professionals — from archaeologists to museum and exhibit curators — have been immersed in the question of how people experience and consume information and artifacts from the past for centuries. Understanding how visitors continue to interact with and experience museums and historical research in the 21st century is the question currently facing heritage professionals.
Curating the Past for the Digital Age: History and the Online Experience
The internet has disrupted everything — from how we communicate and learn to how society stores and interacts with information. Google may have started out with grand ambitions to create something of a digital, 21st-century counterpart to the Library of Alexandria, but as the current state of politics and online culture have shown, even the most open and democratic information (or especially the most open and democratic) needs a good curator.
Why the User Experience Matters for Museums and Cultural Institutions
Like every modern institution and business, museums and galleries are plagued with the same issues that have become staples of a more digital and data-driven world, such as:
- How to attract and retain visitors and patrons.
- Fundraising for restoration projects, new acquisitions, and investments in research and institutional needs.
- How to get, keep and engage the attention of consumers faced with an onslaught of stimulation and information.
If They Can Take a Selfie With It, Will They Come?
People may spend more and more time online and be more distracted than ever before, but the need and desire to connect with and understand our history is one of the things that makes and keeps us human. In order to capitalize on the seeming digital divide between history and the present, heritage professionals can start by building a bridge between the digital and physical world for consumers. Building a responsive website, creating interactive apps and taking advantage of social media, are the best places to start.