Museums and the Web

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Perception Deception

Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre
in-house (Ken Dickson, Daniel Jimenez, Cindy Chambers, Stuart Kohlhagen)

The “Perception Deception” web site features more than a dozen online experiences designed to test whether or not you see the world the same way as others do.

Rather than simply build an online “advertisement” for Questacon’s newest exhibition, we decided to create a web site that also worked as a stand-alone educational piece.

We knew from past web sites we had created, the challenge wouldn’t be so much in attracting visitors to the site; it’d be retaining their attention once they arrived.

To that end, we focussed on accomplishing three things with the “Perception Deception” web site:

  • presenting the experiences using various styles of interaction, i.e. answering a question based on a video, matching labels to content, and shuffling and sorting elements
  • encouraging visitors to explore multiple experiences, i.e. by “try another” links, display of how many experiences have been completed, and listing experiences they had yet to try
  • providing “spoilers” – explanatory science information – alongside the experiences instead of behind “click for more” links

As visitors complete each experience, we show how their “perception” compares to that of prior visitors. We also track their progress throughout the entire web site by the use of a “different / same” scale displayed on each page. To ensure there is no barrier to participation, this is all done without requiring visitors to sign up or register. This “comparative” element is unique to the web site – it would have been prohibitively costly to engineer into each of the physical exhibits!

A special version of the “Perception Deception” web site appears to visitors who access via their iPhone. While the site can be accessed by typing in its web address, we simplified the process by placing a small “QRCode” label on each exhibit. Visitors who scan these with their iPhone are transported to the “spoiler” explanation for the exhibit they’re standing in front of allowing them to read a much more in-depth version of the copy than can be viewed on the exhibit panel. At this point mobile visitors account for approximately 3.4% of traffic to the web site.

All of this effort has, so far, resulted in a web site that’s being utilised differently than any other Questacon has created. Rivalling time spent interacting with the physical exhibits, web site visitors are spending an average of 19 minutes on the “Perception Deception” web site – nearly ten times as long as the average for other sections of the site – and visiting about 8 pages as they explore, again, much higher than we see in other sections.

Questacon is proud of our “Perception Deception” web site and appreciates your consideration of it for a “Best of the Web” award.

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