An audio state of mind: Understanding behviour around audio guides and visitor media

Shelley Mannion, The British Museum, UK, Amalia Sabiescu, RMIT Europe, Spain, William Robinson, British Museum, UK

Published paper: An audio state of mind: Understanding behaviour around audio guides and visitor media

It is a transitional moment for one of the British Museum's flagship products: the permanent collection audio guide. Nearly 160,000 visitors take the guide each year. It provides multimedia commentaries for 220 objects on display in museum galleries. In late 2014, the Museum embarked on a project to redesign the guide. This coincided with the launch of a new digital strategy focused on user-centred design. In a six-week Agile project, a cross-disciplinary team interviewed, observed, and tested paper prototypes with more than 250 visitors. This paper highlights the results, which include six key factors that influence take-up rate of audio guides and common patterns of behaviour in their use. It is of interest to anyone reflecting on the role of the traditional audio or multimedia guide alongside smartphones and mobile apps.

The research methods we used for this project build on previous work at the British Museum and discussed in papers and presentations at MW and other conferences: