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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Delightfully lost: a new kind of wayfinding at Kew

Abstract

In October 2010, Kew Gardens commissioned an in-depth study of visitors’ motivations and information needs around its 300 acre site, with the express aim that it should guide the development of new mobile apps. The work involved over 1500 visitor tracking observations, 350 mini interviews, 200 detailed exit interviews and 85 fulfilment maps and gave Kew an incredibly useful insight into its visitors’ wants, needs and resulting behaviours.

It turns out that most Kew visitors have social, emotional and spiritual, rather than intellectual, motivations during their time here. They do not come hoping to find out more and they don’t want or need to know precisely where they are all the time. In fact, they love the sense of unguided exploration and the serendipitous discoveries they make at Kew – they want to become ‘delightfully lost’.

This paper will explore how this perhaps counter-intuitive idea – to help visitors become ‘delightfully lost’ – has influenced mobile thinking at Kew. What impact has it had on mobile concept development, design, and marketing? It will then ask whether this principle might reasonably apply in other outdoor visitor attractions, museums and galleries – using existing case studies to draw out parallels and differences.

Finally this paper will look at the results of Kew’s summative evaluation of its garden app – does quantitative and qualitative data suggest we achieved our aims? And what does this mean for future mobile developments across the Gardens?

Type: 

Paper - in formal session

Authors

Natasha Waterson's picture
I am currently Senior Producer, Mobile Services at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Kew is very much a scientific and conservation organisation as well as a botanic garden and so I'm particularly interested in how mobile technology could help both our scientists in the field, and involve our public...
Mike Saunders's picture
Mike Saunders is Director of Digital Media at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.