Product Designer
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Newseum

Newseum

Enhancing a physical space with an innovative technological experience.

product strategy • user experience design • user interface design

The Newseum's Pulitzer Prize Photography Gallery features the most comprehensive collection of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs ever assembled, including photographs from every Pulitzer Prize-winning entry since 1942, when the award was first presented. The lightweight free companion app allows visitors to dive deeper into some of the Pulitzer Prize’s memorable photographs, featuring interviews with the photographers and milestone moments.

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The main feature of the app, is the Explore function which gives visitors in the gallery space access to videos of interviews with the Prize-winning photographers. While using the app, visitors are instructed to hold their mobile device up to a select group of 12 photographs, prompting an augmented button displays overtop the photograph with the option to watch the video immediately or save it for later viewing. 

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To give the app greater value both before and after a visitor's museum visit, there are digital photo galleries detailing the history of the Pulitzer Prize and surprising artifacts in the museum's collection. In a nod to a museum's typical audio tours, the Listen audio gallery features sound clips from the Pulitzer Prize Photography gallery's curator.

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After a user taps the augmented button while exploring within the gallery, a short video interview appears, giving more insight into the photographer and context of the Prize-winning photograph. By saving the video, users can still access the video after discovering it within the exhibit.

 

Process

The Chalk + Chisel team worked with an extremely abbreviated timeline to strategize, design, and develop this app for the Newseum's opening of the renovated Pulitzer Prize Photography gallery. With one week to both blueprint and finalize design, it was an all hands-on-deck design process.

I lead a white-boarding exercise with our product manager and interactive developer. By beginning with the main feature of the app—"Explore"—we focused on how to provide value to the video content after the museum experience. Building upon this discussion, we sketched features that would provide future visitors with additional valuable content. From these quick sketches, I needed to reproduce this combination wireframe and user flow to be a client-facing document. 

The most interesting challenge during the design and strategy process was the consideration for how this app would be used in a unique public space. I took great care to think about the contrast within the app, as it would be used primarily in a dimly lit gallery space. For the AR feature, we had the capability to automatically play the video upon triggered recognition of the photograph. However, I advocated to have an intermediary button for users to tap, arguing that it would be jarring for some users to have a video begin playing without understanding what triggered it. Lastly, the app needed to be fully compliant for accessibility. The developers and I worked together to devise a solution that used VoiceOver to dictate to a user a description of the photograph as well as when the button was on screen and tappable.