A New Design for ArtClix

Updating an app for the High Museum of Atlanta


The High Museum of Atlanta had an attendance problem.

The High Museum's attendance had dropped off by 20%, from 500,000 to 400,000, between 2010 and 2015. They wanted to reach a broader audience that better reflects the diverse multiracial, multicultural, and multigenerational community of Atlanta, GA.  In pursuit of these goals, they asked themselves the following question:

How might we increase our attendance, and make the High museum more approachable and appealing for the people of Atlanta?



The Process we used, and my contributions

Project Duration: This was a two week design sprint as part of the UX design immersive program at General Assembly.

The Process: To address this problem, our team engaged in a process that involved researching the problem, defining specific features about the problem that we would address, coming up with design ideas, creating the designs, and then testing their effectiveness. We repeated the process of ideation, design, and testing until we found a solution that was effective.


My Role: I worked as part of a team of four. My contributions to the project include heuristic analysis of comparable apps, conducting interviews, creating user flows and paper prototypes, and testing prototypes with users.

ArtClix is the High Museum's mobile app.

The museum recognized the app's potential as a tool in achieving their goals of increased, diversified attendance and improved engagement with the local community. However, the app's functionality was rather narrow. It could recognize photos of specific artworks and provide multimedia content about those artworks to museum guests. It was released in 2011. 

The museum wanted to expand ArtClix's features, allowing guests to do more with it. They approached our design team in order to help them figure out which features to build, and what these features would be like.





We took a field visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

While we were there, our team interviewed both patrons and museum employees. By observing museum patrons, and being mindful of our own needs and behaviors in the museum, we gained some valuable insights. Some of the observations we made during our trip to the museum include:

  • Local visitors tended to fall into 3 categories: students, retirees, or locals entertaining visitors from out of town
  • People relied a great deal on paper maps for getting around and general information about exhibits
  • Students were well represented at all ages. Many of the people in the museum that day were groups of students on field trips (just like us!)
  • People like both live tours and audio tours because they provide context for the art and made art more approachable
  • Some people were more engaged with their phones than with the art.

We conducted a survey.

Our survey was conducted online, and we had 46 responses. We asked about whether or not people had ever used museum apps, whether or not they had ever taken a tour, how they find out about museum events, and many other things. Here are some insights we gained from the survey:


 Just under 35% of respondents reported using a museum app in the past. Reasons for this included reluctance to install unfamiliar software, as well as lack of awareness. How could we get the word out about the app and get people to give it a try?


The majority of people expressed regret at missing an exhibition or event in the past. How could we use the app to inform people about upcoming events at the museum?


People liked museum tours! Almost 90% of the people we surveyed had taken either an audio tour, or a guided live tour in the past. Could ArtClix be used to improve the museum tour experience?

We interviewed people.


We conducted interviews of family, friends, strangers, museum visitors, and museum employees. Our team interviewed 11 people altogether. Here are some of the insights we gained through our interviews:

  • Navigation is a big deal. Museum employees said the #1 question was about finding their way around the museum.
  • Most people visit the museum once on a school trip or with a friend visiting from out of town, but they don't think to return regularly to see new exhibits.
  • People like tours because they put the art in context and make the artwork more approachable.
  • Traditional live tours and audio tours can be problematic. Sometimes people can't commit a long period of time to a tour.
  • Another drawback to traditional audio tours is that they inhibit discussion among groups. Everybody is focused on listening to the audio program, rather than sharing thoughts about the artwork.

We did a Competitive Analysis.


We compared ArtClix's feature set with that of other museum apps. We found that there was a lot of opportunity to expand ArtClix's feature set. Some features would be easy to add by leveraging content that's already available on the website, such as a calendar of daily events at the museum.

Research Synthesis: What we learned

Once we completed our research, we combed through it, looking for key takeaways to keep in mind when designing the new app. Some insights that informed our design process include:

People liked tours, but wanted more flexibility. The information that people got from both live and pre-recorded tours made the art more approachable for people. They enjoyed the historical and cultural context this information provided. However, they often didn't have time to commit to a long tour, and they wanted to be able to talk about the artwork they were viewing if they were in a group.

Adding a map feature would be an asset to both guests and to the museum. Almost every guest we encountered at the SF MOMA had a paper map. If we could integrate a map feature into ArtClix, perhaps people would rely less on paper maps, which are expensive for the museum to print.

The app could be a great outreach tool ... if we can get people to use it. The fact that 65% of survey respondents had never used a museum app stood out to us. How could we raise awareness about the museum in the community, and raise awareness about the app in general?


The museum did several things alongside the app in order to achieve their goals. Among these things were:

  • Staging more exhibitions that feature minorities and people of color
  • Cultivate repeat visits by locals by promoting a cross-section of all of its exhibits and events, rather than spending all its budget on creating and promoting large, “blockbuster” exhibits.
  • Promote the museum as an integral part of the community and a destination for families and young professionals.

It was important to keep these efforts in mind when we created our designs. If the app was going to be an effective tool in helping the High Museum reach its goals, We needed to create something that would work in tandem with the Musem's larger strategies.

Meet Dora.


We developed our persona of Dora after considering all of the information we had gathered through our research. Dora is the kind of person that the High Museum would like to reach: she's local and interested in art, but hasn't yet discovered what a valuable asset the High Museum is in her community. She has the potential of becoming a repeat visitor or member of the Museum.



After considering all we had learned from our research, we asked ourselves, What should we build?

Here's what we settled on:

A map-based tour. The tour would provide guests with a map of the museum. It can show the visitor where they are in the museum and can guide them to artworks with enhanced content. The tour allows people to save a list of the artworks they view on the visit to refer to later if they wish. We decided to build this feature based on the need for navigation that we observed during our field study. The a la carte nature to this kind of tour provides people with the enriched content about art that they enjoy, but allows them the flexibility to choose what they see, and how many artworks they visit. This way, they can spend fifteen minutes or fifty with the app, learning about art.

A schedule of museum events and exhibitions. Providing users access to the museum's calendar of events seemed like a commonsense addition to the app that would be easily implemented.

Notifications. App users can opt into receiving notifications from ArtClix about upcoming events and exhibitions at the museum. These notifications can help remind people of all of the great things happening at the High museum and motivate them to visit more often.

Designing a map-based audio tour

We made several iterations of our map-based tour. In this image, you'll find comparisons between the (very) low fidelity wireframes and the final screen designs we created.

  1. In an early version, we kept access to ArtClix's photo feature on the navigation bar. We removed it from the final design because user testing revealed that people thought that taking photos was required in order to make the tour work.
  2. We struggled to find the right terms to differentiate between traditional audio tours, and our map based tour. After testing a couple of different titles, we referred to the new tour as a "Self-Guided Tour", and called traditional audio tours "Audio Tours".
  3. We considered including an "autoplay" function, which would just start playing audio if the user got close enough to an audio-enabled artwork, but we ultimately decided that the feature would be too confusing and startling.
  4. Early designs had a carousel of audio-enabled artworks nearby across the top of the screen. However, in this location, the carousel concealed too much of the map, which is intended to be the main focus of the screen at this stage.
  5. We designed a feature that allowed the user to flip from a map view to an image view when the audio was playing. In the end, we disposed of this feature. Research revealed that it was important that people know that they are looking at the correct artwork.
  6. In our prototype, we had the text of the audio on screen as the audio played. In the final version, the default screen has no audio text. We wanted peoples' focus to be on the art, not on the screen. However, we didn't eliminate it completely. We added a button that would reveal audio text for people who are hearing impaired or who didn't bring headphones.

What's Happening?


In our new version of ArtClix, we provided access to the museum's list of events. People can find out what's happening at the museum today, and they can discover upcoming events as well. We also added a popover that encourages people to opt into receiving notifications about future events. We were deliberate in having this prompt appear on the Upcoming Events screen. If people are using the app to find out about future events, it's likely that they'll be interested in receiving notifications.

The museum raised awareness about the app among the local population by encouraging high school and college students to install it during class field trips. Adding notifications reminded students about their trip to the museum, and kept them aware of upcoming events. In this way, the app helped the museum work toward its goal of engaging with locals and encouraging them to make repeat visits to the museum.

Next Steps

While we were pleased with what we managed to do on this design sprint, there were things left undone due to time constraints. One of the things that was requested in the original brief was images from past and present exhibitions through the app. In the future, it would be great to design a feature that allows people to access photos of artwork and perhaps highlights from the audio tours from past exhibits.


email: katevans at gmail dot com