Finding Mobile Design Inspiration in Mid-Century St. Louis
Even though “user experience” is a term that we hear thrown around quite a bit these days, it’s not really a new concept at all. The modernist design movement began emphasizing user experience well before digital was even a thing.
That’s why we were excited to help tell the story of modern design’s local history by creating a mobile tour app for St. Louis Modern, the Saint Louis Art Museum’s latest exhibit. The idea of intuitive functionality that these forefathers of modern design pioneered is the same ethos we used in designing this mobile tour guide app, as well as any immersive digital experience that we create.
At the beginning our process, we wanted to learn how visitors engaged with the museum, so we spent lots of time observing how they interacted with each piece of art. What we found were many opportunities to create a richer, more rewarding experience beyond what’s on display. By filling in the gaps, we could create a truly comprehensive experience.
Next, we used what we learned from our observations to create goals for user experience. Then we began asking ourselves how to create the framework for meeting these goals. For instance, how would we create a fully immersive experience without disrupting a visitor’s unique behavior? With that in mind, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work on the St. Louis Modern Mobile Tour.
Upon entering St. Louis Modern, visitors using the app were greeted with a video of Saint Louis Art Museum Director Brent Benjamin giving simple, straightforward directions. Next, videos of the exhibition’s curators provided visitors with a quick primer on the modernist design movement.
Further inside the exhibition, visitors found that the app’s seamless integration allowed them to create their own personalized experience. As a visitor first encountered whichever item struck his or her fancy, a brief audio track explored the nuances of that particular piece. Then visitors had the choice to explore the subject more deeply with videos, interviews, pictures and maps. Or they could simply move on to the next piece if they wanted.
In the end, our app often went unnoticed by visitors. Why is that such a great thing? Because it means that the content was placed front and center in an intuitive manner. We did what any great modernist designer would do: create a design that becomes inextricable from the overall experience. Our tribute to these titans of design was not just in the story, but also in how we told it.