If I were tasked with designing a digital experience for a place like the museum of natural history:
My first thought: dinosaur bones. That’s what I remember most about my experience there as a youngster. I’m sure a lot has changed, but I wonder what others impressions are. What does it mean to different folks? What would my takeaway be if I visited today? Does it matter that I am an old guy and not a little kid having the experience?
Examine the current state like a forensics expert. Every existing experience can reveal cues about the current culture, the current perception from within. What is emphasized? What is buried? A glaring omission may represent a lack of ability or focus or worse, a political battle that has been raging beneath. The current state can reveal so much about the battles and challenges that may lie In the road to a new experience.
This is a physical location that relies on a physical experience. Any digital experience needs to consider the experience one can only truly have in person. As I mentioned before, I wonder what my takeaway would be today. I would first have the entire team go to the museum with their friends, family, or alone. Not experiencing it as a team with a job to do seems important. Then I’d gather the team to talk about our experiences. What pictures did we take? What brochure did we grab? What water fountain did we stop at (or any other seemingly innocuous event that may inspire later). Trying not to emphasize observations about other visitors seems key. I want to compile a picture of _our_ experiences.
Next – I would focus on the actual visitors with another trip. This one more about the task at hand. With camera and video camera in tow, I would send two different teams to compile their perspective on how random visitors are experiencing the museum. Having two perspectives may help to see some Interesting patterns in what elements were chosen to cover.
Then I would do all the regular agency forensics to establish the rails upon which the conversations ahead will ride. A great idea may fall through the cracks if we did not do our homework enough to understand how to couch the description and presentation. The reason that virtual tour does not exist (or whatever) may be an indication that someone tried and failed, something that was found to be a bad experience, something someone high-up does not feel is right, or something that was never even explored. Knowing something like that would go a long way in crafting the presentation for any big ideas that emerge.
Oh yeah – with all of the above information in hand – or while is is getting Into hand – I would sketch. By sketch I don’t mean make wireframes or prototypes. I mean I would burp out ideas for any aspect of the experience and find a common place to capture then and let them incubate. An observation like “we had the best hot dog at the cart outside.” could lead Inspire someone on the team down the road. We just never know. That’s the beauty of it.
All the above activities may help the team focus on _inspiration_ above innovation. Too often innovation is thought of as the focus for a creative endeavor. The reality I’ve found is that innovation is the wrong place to start. A team needs a bevy of inspiration in order to truly create amazing experiences.
So… What?… This has made me look forward to hearing about my nephew’s first trip to the museum this weekend. I wonder if he will remember the dinosaurs.