As part of each of the Open Data Challenges we commission user research into the Challenge issue. Here Joanna Choukeir, Head of Public Sector Design and Innovation at Uscreates, the strategic creative consultancy providing user research for the Open Data Challenge Series, sets out the key findings from the user research for the Heritage + Culture Open Data Challenge.
As part of each of the Open Data Challenges we commission user research into the Challenge issue. This research is intended to provide actionable insight to inspire the design of products and services that will be developed by teams competing in the Challenge. This user research includes outputs such as user personas and user journeys for teams to use at key stages of development of their ideas. This resource is not intended to be exhaustive and teams are encouraged to undertake their own research in order to further refine their product/service. As well as providing this user research, we train teams at our meetups to undertake user research so that a user focus can form an ongoing part of the development of their product.
Here Joanna Choukeir, Head of Public Sector Design and Innovation at Uscreates, the strategic creative consultancy providing user research for the Open Data Challenge Series, sets out the key findings from the user research for the Heritage + Culture Open Data Challenge and introduces the full research report which is available for download.
Uscreates undertook a piece of user insight research on behalf of Nesta and the Open Data Institute to support the teams taking part in the Heritage and Culture open date challenge. The aim of the user research is to provide teams with an insight into some of the opportunities and challenges facing potential audience members and other stakeholders from the heritage and culture sector.
The process, including details of who we interviewed, can be found in the user research slide deck. Teams should use this research to gain a high level understanding of the issues relating to the groups they want to help, to identify where there might be a need for a tool or service. We would expect teams to use this as a starting point for their own investigation.
Within the research, we identified links between stakeholders and used the Audience Agency segmentation to understand the different types of visitors of heritage and culture opportunities.
Map of stakeholder interactions: we mapped the different interactions – both financial and informational – that take place between the key players in the heritage and culture space. This diagram visualises the complexity of this landscape.
Audience Agency Segmentor: The Audience Agency brought together data to inform their audience segmentation, which comprises of 10 different groups. These are divided into those who are highly engaged, those who are medium engaged and those who are lower engaged. More detail about each segment, including their prevalence in different geographic areas of the UK, can be found at http://audiencefinder.org/audience/#segmentation
In terms of accessing heritage and culture the main way people said that they were made aware of things to see and do was from friends and families. They then usually search for more information online. People said they made the decision to go somewhere if they trusted the opinion of the person who recommended it to them, or knew and trusted the venue or creators. They were also helped in their decision making by knowing how easy the place would be for them to access and enjoy. Potential audiences’ main motivations for visiting places were enjoyment, learning, socialising and creating memories for families.
Some of the challenges facing potential audiences were a sense that some things were not for them, physical inaccessibility, not understanding what was on offer, and more practical issues like poor value for money and lack of time. It should be noted that income was not a simple predictor of engagement as people's motivation to engage played a bigger role.
Opportunities for outreach organisations and intermediaries (such as curators, agents, the press and marketing) are that they can create different types of content including digital content, the breaking down of barriers for some groups of the population, engaging families for more sustainable impact, and different funding and partnership opportunities. Some of their main challenges are finding and reaching out to people who are not engaging, expense of intensive outreach, and facilitating real accessibility for all.
Some of the opportunities for heritage and culture institutions identified are; funding for engagement programmes, use of social media, creating engaging activities, the ability to offer reduced priced or free tickets, partnerships with outreach organisations, and taking the work they do out into communities who may not normally engage. Amongst the challenges that institutions face are the costs associated with audience engagement, determining who low engagers are and how to reach them, practicalities of offering people digital content, low uptake of some initiatives, and the level of resource, knowledge and expertise to engage diverse groups of people.
Creators (such as artists, playwrights and conservationists) were asked about how they engage with audiences and how they establish themselves within the sector. In terms of engaging audiences, the main opportunities are the use of social media and the diverse ways of presenting their work to people. Challenges identified were the money required to create and promote their work, and the concern about greater free access devaluing their work. In terms of becoming creators, the opportunities were around the availability of networks and funding from a range of sources. However there are challenges in terms of finding out about appropriate funding opportunities and the overall cost of making a career out of being a creator.
Funders were asked about their funding process, decisions about what to fund and how they measure impact. Some of the opportunities for them are numerous and diverse applications for their fund, and networks that they can easily reach people through. The challenges for them are reaching people who may not be in those networks, having to reject some good projects, and measuring the impact of their investment in non-financial terms.
A variety of existing and exciting products and services were identified by the people we spoke to, ranging from apps that tell you about artefacts you are looking at in a range of amenities, to websites that help creators identify grants they can apply for. However, each group also identified areas where they felt there were gaps in the market and where additional information, data or tools could help them.
Things such as real accessibility, online information about smaller cultural community groups, promoting understanding about what culture is, digital interfaces and content, and reaching the ‘hard to reach’ groups were all cited as potential opportunities for the use of open data.
Photo Credit: Stephan Caspar via Flickr CC