MTA Transit Museum – UX Research & Redesign

My role: UX research, creating wireframes, designing interactive prototypes

Tools Used: Sketch, Invision, Trello, Optimal Workshop, Slickplan

Beginning in early 2016, our four person team launched a redesign of the MTA Transit Museum’s website with the goal of enhancing the user experience for site visitors.  Based on user-driven research and UX/IA best practices, our digital prototype, which reimagines both the structure and overall design of the MTA Transit Museum website, aims to improve the organization of site contents, ease of navigation, and findability of desired information.

Our process was organized into three phases.

1. Understanding Content

To begin our redesign, we first performed a content inventory and created a sitemap with Slickplan to better understand the current structure of the MTA Transit Museum website as well as the challenges we’d be facing during the redesign. We discovered many critical issues on the website, such as broken links, links that direct users to outdated content, and confusing top-level navigation labels.

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The MTA Transit Museum Site Map displays that the content is “horizontally shallow” – in other words, the site’s sprawling top level navigation creates a wide, unbalanced visual structure.

In order to identify potential ways to improve the functionality of the MTA Transit Museum Website, we also conducted a competitive analysis of similarly sized cultural institutions in New York City. Findings from our competitive analyses shed light on how other institutions address some content challenges in our redesign. We found that basic information such as hours and location should be prominently displayed and that links and labels should be clear and avoid jargon.

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2. Understanding Users

Our next phase of research sought to learn more about museum visitors, including their pain points, information needs and preferences. We decided to focus on four types of museum patrons – child carers, transit enthusiasts, native New Yorkers, and college students – that are representative of real visitors the museum attracts. By posting a questionnaire to the popular BusChat and Subchat transit message boards and conducting in-person interviews as my research methods,  I set out to learn how transit lovers use museum websites.

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We then triangulated our findings and identified several common themes:

  • Users heavily rely on museum websites to find visitor information such as hours, price, and location.
  • Information on exhibitions, tours, and events should be easy to locate, well-organized, and descriptive
  • Unclear jargon is a rate limiting step that currently inhibits users of the site from finding the information they need.

Before launching our structural redesign, we recruited users for a card sorting exercise with Optimal Workshop to see how potential site visitors group group and label the website’s content. Both our card sort insights and user group findings became the foundation for a revised sitemap.

3. Design and Implementation

The newly revised sitemap reenvisions the MTA transit museum structure by narrowing the site’s top-level navigation into 7 categories, eliminating use of jargon, and applying clear, understandable labels.

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My team and I then began sketching revised interface ideas informed by museum visitors’ information needs, paying specific attention to the location of general visitor information such as hours, admission price, and directions. We used these paper prototypes to perform task-based user testing and evaluate what changes should be made before breaking ground on our final design. User test results pointed to issues with labeling and top level navigation categorization, and led to our decision to create secondary navigation on the “Events & Tours” and “For Visitors” pages.

Using Sketch software, our revised paper prototypes were then translated into digital wireframes.

Invision was used to link together the different pages, making our Sketch design interactive and clickable. Our final prototype presents an enriched version of the MTA Transit museum website that better organizes content, is easier to navigate and complies more closely with web standards as well as design best practices, creating an all-around more positive experience for potential museum visitors.

View the Interactive Prototype

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