The Dimensions of the Mobile Visitor Experience: Thinking beyond the Technology Design

By Marco Mason.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the Twenty-first century, museums’ mobile digital technology has a prominent role in communication and interpretation thanks to its characteristics of multimodality, handiness, ubiquity, accessibility, and social networking.
Digital technology had been a central topic of design discourse in museums up until the recent years. In recent years the attention has shifted from technology to visitor experience. Nowadays the innovative character of mobile devices depends not so much on technology per se as on socio-technical system that now, more than ever before, put visitor’s needs and museum environment at the core of the design.
Designing mobile apps with the visitor experience as an explicit outcome means looking beyond functionality: we should take into account visitors’ expectations, motivations, and behaviors, above and beyond interface usability, and then extend this understanding to the context of the use of the device and to the whole experience of the visit. Any design effort should go in the direction of integrating all of these dimensions. This paper’s contribution comes from answering the following question: what are the “dimensions of the context” of mobile-media-enhanced visitor experience?
In investigating recent studies and analyzing recent projects on mobile media for museums we have classified three main domains – museum, visitor, and mobile technology. From these domains we have identified fundamental dimensions that can help designers and museum practitioners to better understand the context in which visitors use a mobile app and, in turn, enable them to make more informed design decisions.

Keywords: User-centered Design, Museum, Visitor Experience, Mobile App

The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.51-72. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.933MB).

Marco Mason

Marie Curie Fellow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Marco Mason is holding a Ph.D in Design Sciences. Since 2003 he has carried on different research and teaching activities in the field of digital media design for heritage. He is conducting a research project, as Marie Curie fellow, titled “Digital Media for Heritage: Refocusing Design from the Technology to the Visitor Experience” that aims to investigate design theory and practices of digital media for heritage.The research is conjunctly conducted by the School of Museum Studies (University of Leicester, UK) and the Program in Science, Technology, and Society Program (MIT, USA).

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