What A Trip To The Museum Can Teach Us About UX Copy

Part 1 of 2

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I was walking around Chicago on a freezing winter day when...
Perfect!..An escape from this weather.
...I found myself in front of the Natural History Museum.
Ahh...It's so warm in here!

INFORMATION

COAT CHECK

We will visualize our experience with the Cieden 'Flo-Meter'

 

Flow = User Journey
Finally I won't be needing these heavy clothes...
Great! there's the coat check..➡️
Today, We'll evaluate the user experience of a trip to the museum, with a focus on copywriting.

# UX INSIGHT

User Journey

A user journey is the experiences a person has when using or interacting with a product or environment.

Creating user journey maps helps you keep user motivation at the front of your mind and create UX flows that get users where they want to go...

EXHIBITS

INFORMATION

# UX INSIGHT

Wayfinding Cues

Introduce familiar elements, such as arrows, finger points, or other pathways.

Just like the You are here marker on a map, positional cues help users to orient themselves within an information environment.

Always make sure to orient the user...
Ahh...that's more comfortable!
Let's check out what all there is to see here

YOU ARE HERE

➡️

EXTINCTION HALL

METAMORPHOSIS

SPECTRUM OF LIFE

EXHIBIT MAPS:

Nice...they have some cool exhibits!
I like dinosaurs so let's see what's in Extinction Hall ➡️
They do this by utilizing user journey mapping, wayfinding cues, & structured districts...

# UX INSIGHT

Structured Districts

Structured districts are the main categories into which we can divide an environment.

Logical, clear districts are important to helping users understand an information environment at its most basic level.

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EXHIBITS

FOOD COURT

EXTINCTION HALL MAP

Museums must account for the many different intentions of visitors...
Let's head to the exhibit...➡️
...but the labels & layout can also be confusing & over-whelming...

WELCOME TO EXTINCTION HALL

Museum exhibits can be interesting and exciting places...
These can be just as helpful or 'deadly' in UX copy as they are on your trip to the museum...➡️

# MUSEUM INSIGHT

From The Experts

In Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, Beverly Serrell offers a list of Helpful Research, as well as  “Deadly Sins" that should be avoided within museum copy...

# UX INSIGHT

UX Copy

UX Copy consists of all words and labels that provide people with decision-making clarity when interacting with a product or environment.

This acts as a Call To Action (CTA) that guides people to their next step...

Information Overload

Too much text! Too many clickable paths and too much formatting can negatively impact navigation.

Focus on reducing clutter, confusion, and cognitive workload.

 

Cognitive Workload...

🧠  Imagine your brain

💪  Is a muscle

ℹ️  And every pixel of information

🏋️  Is weight that needs to be lifted

 

# UX INSIGHT

My head hurts!

From The Experts

"Labels that are too long and wordy" is one of Beverly Serrell's 'Deadly Sins'.

Labels should be short and concise, more like a tweet than a tome.

Trim away non-essential information, and make every word count.

Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach

# MUSEUM INSIGHT

Right off the bat, this wall of text was too much to process...

# UX INSIGHT

Be Concise

Keep the most important text first and then ruthlessly edit what comes after. This is called Front-loading.

If there is too much information, people tend to read the first few lines, or the shortest paragraph, then start just scanning down the text. ➡️

Here's a  better example that's concise, fun, & informative...

# MUSEUM INSIGHT

From The Experts

Too much complexity and simplified content both can have the same result:
making a visitor feel stupid.

Clarity, on the other hand, results from a process that focuses on one big idea and helps all visitors feel competent.

Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach

# UX INSIGHT

Clarity & Simplicity

One of the significant characteristics of effective UX writing is clarity and simplicity.

For clarity, remove technical terms and use familiar, inclusive, and understandable words and phrases instead. ➡️

The Heat Is On

Metamorphic rocks are formed under extreme heat and pressure present deep within the Earth's crust.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

This is a good example of a difficult concept explained in familiar terms...
That's interesting!
Now this is confusing...

⬅️ Look To The Left

This complete T-Rex scull is one of the best preserved in the world...

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

# UX INSIGHT

Accuracy

Having information in the wrong place or the wrong information entirely is as good as no information at all, or worse!

If people misread something or overlook some direction, you have to change it. You can’t blame them! ➡️

 

Hmm...I don't see it on the left???

From The Experts

"If your space becomes a never ending list of restrictionsno photographs, no food and drink, no touching, no talking and so on – visitors will never feel relaxed nor engaged" - Beverly Serrell

Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach

# MUSEUM INSIGHT

Touch The Mammoth Tusk

Tusks are teeth! These modified teeth are not used for chewing or biting but for gathering food, downing trees, attracting mates, intimidating rivals, and fighting.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

No No No

It's best to avoid negative language whenever possible...
Bummer...

# UX INSIGHT

Positive Language

A reader doesn't necessarily want to hear what they're lacking, they want to hear what they can have when using your product or service. So in your copy, aim to frame information positively, not negatively.

This ensures that the user is respected and cared for, and the desired behavior is achieved. ➡️

Tell the user what can be achieved... 

From the Experts

"Labels with no apparent system of design and content to organize the messages, codes, or context." is another 'sin' of label design.

It's proven that labels with images and words working together are more attractive, meaningful, and memorable to more visitors than text-only labels. ➡️

Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach

# MUSEUM INSIGHT

Plant-Eaters

Meat-Eaters

Many plant-eating dinosaurs laid round eggs...

Many meat-eating dinosaurs laid long, narrow eggs...

Now let's take a look at the hierarchy of a museum label & how it relates to UX copy...

Visual Reference

Human beings are incredibly visual creatures. An ability to interpret visual information and cues is hard-wired into our brains. ➡️

# UX INSIGHT

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Plant-Eaters

Meat-Eaters

Many plant-eating dinosaurs laid round eggs...

Many meat-eating dinosaurs laid long, narrow eggs...

Headline

Organizing and formatting your text in such a way that readers or users can clearly see what’s most important, which enables them to easily navigate the layout at a glance and quickly scan to find the information they’re looking for. ➡️

# UX INSIGHT

What's the big idea?..

Plant-Eaters

Meat-Eaters

Many plant-eating dinosaurs laid round eggs...

Many meat-eating dinosaurs laid long, narrow eggs...

Sub Heading

For organizing text into sections or grouping related information together. Sub text should clearly direct viewers to the different parts of the design and help them navigate easily. ➡️

# UX INSIGHT

Boosting clarity...

Plant-Eaters

Meat-Eaters

Many plant-eating dinosaurs laid round eggs...

Many meat-eating dinosaurs laid long, narrow eggs...

Body Text

This is where the detailed information lives. This level could be long or short; a whole article, a short note, or a brief description.

The primary concern for this level is that it’s easy to read since the font size will likely be somewhat small. ➡️

# UX INSIGHT

Explain the details...

Plant-Eaters

Meat-Eaters

Many plant-eating dinosaurs laid round eggs...

Many meat-eating dinosaurs laid long, narrow eggs...

# CIEDEN SUMMARY

Before you go...If you have any questions about these concepts, feel free to reach out to us...

 

TALK TO AN EXPERT

What we saw...

1) User Journey

2) Wayfinding

3) Structured Districts

4) Information Overload

5) Frontloading

6) Clarity & Simplicity

7) Accuracy

8) Structural Hierarchy

NAVIGATION

UX-COPY

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll bring these concepts into the digital world.