Burke Museum

A product that utilizes geolocation and Augmented Reality technology to give museum visits timely information through audio and text.

5 Weeks
Mar 2020 - May 2020
My role
Interaction design
Visual Design
Adobe AI
Design Challenge
How might we provide more accessible information of exhibits for visitors and improve their overall visit experience in the Burke Museum?
In this project, I focused on interaction design and visual design, including micro-interaction, high-fidelity interfaces, and animated prototypes. I also built the visual system, including mood board, color theme, logo and fonts.

The Burke Museum was founded in 1885 by the Young Naturalists, a group of curious teenagers inspired by seeing Seattle transform before their eyes.

In 2019, the museum moved the the new building. After reopening, the Burke Museum only have a website for visitors to get information. Thus, I required to design a mobile phone application to enhance visit experience and let visitors better and easier to assist museum information.

It is easy to get overwhelmed when people visit a museum for the first time. There are so many exhibits, texts, and interactive activities that can catch visitors' attention. Without an overall understanding of the museum design and floor plan, it is easy to miss certain areas of the exhibitions and events in the museum. Additionally, tediously long text may increase barriers to certain group of visitors like elders, children and foreigners and reduce their visit experiences.

Research labs in the Burke Museum allow visitors to observe and learn from researchers' study. However, it's hard to get information without the volunteers' help and explanation. It would be a pity if the visitors missed this unique part of the museum.

Key Features

Audio Guide for Additional Information
Able to view floor map and check available point of interest.
Listen or read exhibits information with a convenient way.
User Needs
Audio guide as assistant to better access information, as well as floor map with details.
Explore research labs
Able to use AR Technology to explore available information in research labs.
Listen or read explanation of the selected item in the lab.
Get a comprehensive understanding of the research lab.
User Needs
Want to know more information in the research labs even if there are no volunteers available.
Be able to save interesting information/knowledge in phones.
Additional Audio Guide through AR
Able to listen to the explanations of the exhibits by scanning the exhibits.
Dive deeper in the stories behind the exhibits.
Get to know the current location by checking map.
User Needs
Don't want to read long texts.
Want to know the story of exhibits series and get timely information.
Calendar for Events
Able to check available activities and events intro during the visit.
Easy to find the date, time and location information of the activities.
User Needs
Want to find activities/events information during their visiting.
Easy to find activities/events location.


Subject-Matter Expert Interview
In order to get a comprehensive understanding of the museum, our class interviewed Kate Fernandez, who is the director of interpretation and visitor experience at the Burke.

By doing this, I want to learn the museum's brief history and the main changes from old to new Burke.

Old Burke:
Old Burke was more oriented to the research, which was not visible to visitors.
Old Burke was not doing a good job of sharing this with a broad audience.
Privileged visitors even couldn’t see what was happening behind the scenes

Examples of changes:
New Burke provides desks at the windows of the labs and makes research work visible to visitors.
“Sparks” volunteers: on weekends, they facilitate conversations with visitors. Like live translators. Trained them to meet different audiences.
* Wide windows let visitors see behind-the-scenes research and communicate with volunteers. Photo from seattle.curbed.com
Primary Research
To better understand visitors behavior, needs, and frustrations during their visiting, I talked with 3 visitors in the Burke Museum.
I also talked with 2 volunteers to understand their background, daily work and responsibilities.
Participants: Visitors are currently visiting & volunteers
Duration: 10~15 minutes
Research Question for Visitors: How is the visit experiences? What's are their pain points during visit?

Understand visit journey
Find out visitors' frustrating moments during their visiting
Leverage technology to help
key findings


Visitors need a better understanding of the museum to support their visit.
“I don't know how big is the museum and how much time I will spend on each floor. I don't want to miss any part of the museum” —— Participant 3


Long text is a challenge for certain group of visitors.
"Well, my native language is not English. I need to take longer time to read those long texts. So, I just don't read them and keep seeing the exhibits." —— Participant 1


Volunteers are not always available for visitors.
"Actually, I'm pretty interested in the research lab. What they are doing, what they are working on. But no one is here to tell me." —— Participant 2

"We are here on weekends, and I'm happy to share what's going on in the research labs with visitors." —— volunteer 1


It's easy to miss museum events and activities during visitors' visiting.
"I heard there are some open labs, but I don't know if there is any today." —— Participant 3

"We have many amazing events here, I hope all the visitors can easily get the information and join." —— volunteer 2
I synthesized interview results to form a typical visitor's visit journey, and divided the entire visit into three phases, pre-visit, during visit and post-visit.

The experience map reveals that visitors are are facing more challenges during the visit than the other two phases. Also, improving the visiting experience is the prioritization of the museum visit experience.

Thus, I decided to focus on during-visit when visitors are physically in the museum.
Experience Map
* Made with Giada Sun and Gabriella Chan together.
Based on the research insights, I turned those pain points to user needs from exhibits, interpreter volunteers and workshop events three categories. Based on this, I generated design opportunities that can provide a better visit experience.
Competitors Analysis

To get a sense of how other museum applications enhanced visit experience and let visitors access information, I went through about 5 famous museum applications.

By doing this, I learned pros and cons of their design that let me refer to find my design solution direction.


key Features of the MVP
The core features required became more clear after defining clear user needs.
I need to decide what are the key features of the app to make impacts for visitors and improve their overall visit experience in the Burke Museum.
Paper Prototype
After created the paper prototype, I did several user testing.
By doing this, I hope to learn:
If the key features reduce barriers for visitors to access information in the museum
If the interfaces and flows are intuitive
What the frustrating moment is when users trying to finish a task
Paper prototype testing and user flow

User testing insights & Iteration


Users felt uncomfortable to visualize their path
“Is this going to show my path? Oh...What if I go to bathroom? It will also show the path? I don't like it.” —— Participant 2

Took off the path line.
Changed the dot color darker when user visited the spot, and enlarge the dot when user close to the available spot.


User don't want to spend too much time registering
“I don't want to register, as I may only use this app during my visiting” —— Participant 1

Took off register part and let users to store their information locally.
Simple click to enter the app.


User Flow

Mood Board and Color Theme

The mood board takes inspiration from ocean, forest and nature creatures. I want to create a relax and natural feeling of the design to let user feel hospitable, supportive and easy-going.

I selected color from the Burke Museum building, and created the logo based on the shape of the building to express a consistently design style.

Personal Takeaways

Design the solution based on users' needs and pain points

After finished research and started ideation, it was easy to lose track of reference the research insights and came up with the solution not that focus on users' needs and pain points. That was why I felt difficult to keep working on because I felt I lack support and rely on my imagination. Therefore, I decided to stop my process and went back to review my research insights, and then listed the desired outcome and required key features. Afterworlds, I moved pretty fast and finally came up with the solution that aimed at users' needs and pain points. This project reminds me to keep my design user-centered and rely on the research insights.

Define the scope base on real world needs

For our school assignment, we only needed to look at one portion of the museum, but this seemed impractical from a business and marketing perspective because it is not realistic to develop one phone application only for one portion of the museum.
Thus, I reworked the project to better cover the entire experience, something much more practical for a museum user’s needs.